2009 Grand National Specials

By: Gen Wright

It is such an iconic race that people who generally have no interest in horse racing will still usually stick a few quid down on a horse in the hopes that they get lucky and win a few a bob.

More often than not, these punters don't study form and so find more creative ways of choosing a horse to back such as, favourite number, the jockey that's riding the horse, the jockey's colours, the favourite etc… But if you have a serious lack of knowledge and don't know your Red Rum from Red Bull can you find a better way to bet on the Grand National and still win?

The answer, of course, is yes. You can always opt to back one of the Grand National Specials and given that some are so general you really do have a good chance of winning.

Paddy Power currently have a number of specials on offer so if we look at each of them in turn we should be able to decide on the one that's most likely to earn you a good return on your money.

The first is 'Winner to be trained in Ireland'. This is currently at 2/1 and is low because of the very likelihood of it coming to fruition. In the last 10 years, six of the Grand National winners have been trained in Ireland and they are Bobbyjo (1999), Papillon (2000), Monty's Pass (2003), Hedgehunter (2005), Numbersixvalverde (2006) and Silverbirch (2007).

This is a good bet because although there are a large number of Irish horses in the race, they are not necessarily 'trained' in Ireland and with the recent surge in Irish winners it could be a good one to cover all bases.

The second special is 'Ruby Walsh to ride the winner' at 12/1. Of course, right now we don't even know which horse he will riding so it's difficult to know if the 12/1 bet is a good one or not. He last won the race in 2005 on Hedgehunter and before that in 2000 on Papillion – will it be third time a charm for Ruby? Only one other jockey has won the Grand National three rimes since 1960 and that was Brian Fletcher in 1968 on Red Alligator and again in 1973 and 1974 on Red Rum.

The third special is 'Any Horse to Win at Cheltenham & Win the National' at 20/1 which, as a bet, may not last very long unless a Grand National actually wins at Cheltenham. It's unlikely and even at 20/1 it's not a great bet because the odds of achieving something as historic as a double Cheltenham and National win should be much higher.

The fourth special that we are looking at is 'All runners to clear the 1st safely' at 5/1. Last year all of the horses did clear the first fence so it would have been a very good bet. Unfortunately, this was more the exception than the rule but the caliber of horses running this year is very good and should have no problems clearing the first fence and at 5/1, I would think that it was worth a fiver.

The fifth and final special that we are looking at today is 'JP McManus Owned Winner' at 8/1. For these odds to be mathematically sound, excluding the caliber of his horses, he would need to have a minimum of five horses line up at the starting line. He currently has seven in contention; King Johns Castle, Butlers Cabin, Hobbs Hill, Reveillez, L'Ami, Can't Buy Time, Garde Champetre but we still don't know if all of them will start the race. JP McManus has never had a Grand National winner and at 8/1 he may even be betting on himself this year!

Grand National Specials are a great way of getting more value for your money so rather than backing one horse, you could actually be backing seven if you put a few quid on JP McManus to own the winner. If you back an Irish trained horse to win then you could be backing any of the 35 Irish-trained horses currently on the runners list. The odds may not be incredibly high but you do have a greater chance of winning.

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