The Grand National, Free Bets etc


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Feb 2, 2006
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Thanks to Psychic and magicjay1986 for posting this originally.

Well its that time of year again for the Grand National.
I will start with a preview for the race and then the list of FREE/Bonus bets etc.

Grand National 2013 Preview

The Grand National has changed out of all recognition. It’s not just the lowering of the fences and flattening of the drops round the inside, (which has probably made the course more dangerous not less, as they go much quicker and everyone wants to go up the inner). Nowadays its hugely competitive, a far cry from the ‘90s when 7 of the 9 winners carried between 10-5 and 10-8 and even extending that weight range out a couple of pounds each way, there were usually only 4 or 5 to choose from each year.

The last 4 winners have carried at least 11st and the compression of the weights to give the best horses more of a chance seems to be having the desired effect. Really good horses are now winning - 3 of the last 5 winners had contested Grade 1 races.

On the flip side it’s worth noting that last year was the first renewal for 8 years with a horse competing from out of the handicap proper. Last year there were 69 originally given a weight of 10st or more and this year there are only 59. It’s therefore likely there’ll be runners from out of the handicap again and the phenomenon where trainers were trying to get their runners up in the weights to get a run looks to have gone away with so many fewer horses around since the financial crash, (at the height of the boom you needed to be rated 139 to get a run.) It’s therefore worth keeping an eye out for a shrewd trainer who’s managed to get a classy type in on a low weight without fearing they won’t get a run.

The other factor that’s often under-appreciated is that you generally get one shot at being well enough handicapped to win the National. 6 of the last 10 winners were making their debut over the fences and of the 4 who’d run before, the only one who’d been competitive at the business end was Amberleigh House who was 14l 3rd the previous year to Monty’s Pass. He was 12 when he won (off only a 3lb higher mark), but most of the horses who ran really well the previous year were handicapped out of it on their return. Similarly, horses whose marks had been successfully protected until the weights came out, but who missed the race or came to grief early on, often found themselves too high in the weights the following year.

Last year’s 2nd Sunnyhillboy (28/1 - 10lb higher) and 3rd Seabass (16/1 - 5lb higher and didn’t look to get home last time) both look opposable from their new marks. Last year’s ante-post favourite Prince De Beauchene (14/1 – 12lb higher) is another one to be cautious about.

The other category of horse I usually oppose are those who are inexperienced. 2nd season chasers have a bad record which counts against Join Together (20/1), Teaforthree (20/1), Colbert Station (22/1) and the potentially well handicapped Wyck Hill (25/1).

Similarly On His Own (14/1) has had only 7 chase starts and only 11 races in his life. Willie Mullins is a genius at winning big races with horses who look to lack the normally required experience but this is a big ask and he’s not run since falling when going well last year, (entered at the weekend). However, he has got in off the same mark (148) and looks really well handicapped if his inexperience doesn’t get the better of him.

It’s silly to be dogmatic about those sorts of characteristics – I’m not saying these horses can’t win, just that they tend to be overbet and we’re looking for value. The one I like most of them is Teaforthree, who was a good 2nd in the Welsh National, jumps really well, goes on any ground and is progressive.

That does only leave Tidal Bay and Cappa Bleu at shorter than 25/1 and both look to have good chances. Connections clearly think Tidal Bay (20/1) does as they’ve scratched him from the Gold Cup and are prepared to miss the World Hurdle if needs be. Paul Nicholls has done an amazing job sweetening the old rogue up and his Lexus win reads very well in the context of this - he gets in off a 9lb lower mark (162) than normal. The only concern would be whether he takes to the fences (unseated at the 10th 2 years ago) and assuming he is out the back early on he’ll need luck in running. With Willie Mullins training the front two in the market it’ll be fascinating to see what Ruby Walsh rides.

Cappa Bleu (20/1) was 4th last season and is 2lb lower now. He won the Foxhunters 4 years ago but has had plenty of problems since. He’s a good jumper and didn’t have an easy passage last time around so if he lines up I could see myself backing him but he’s fragile for an ante-post proposition.

Unless there’s a stand out performer I generally want a biggish price at this stage and there are a number who look fair value at the moment.

The Package (28/1) is the most interesting of those who have mainly plied their trade as handicappers. He won the Badger Ales off 139 at Wincanton in November and was a fair 14½l 4th in a hot Hennessy off 147 next time. He unseated on the first circuit when running in this as a 7 year old but is only 5lb higher now on 146, 2 years on, and he still looks to be on the upgrade.

Former Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander (40/1) ran a good race on his comeback in the Argento and is a whopping 27lb below his highest mark on 158. You have to take on trust he’ll stay in one piece, but the bigger concern is that he runs in the Gold Cup as it’s a long time since a horse won the National after a Gold Cup run. If he did bypass Cheltenham he’d be an interesting contender and is worth considering nearer the time.

So many horses tackling the National for the first time have stamina doubts but one who shouldn’t have an issue staying is Quito De La Roque, (50/1). He’d been out of form since concluding his novice season with 2 Grade 1 wins in early 2011, but bounced back at Thurles last time over an inadequate 2½m and if he’s over all the niggles he has, he’s nicely treated off 157.

Former Grade 1 winner Pandorama is a huge price at 125/1. He’s in off 153, 13lb lower than his mark after winning the Lexus 2 seasons ago. He got jarred up in the 2011 Gold Cup and then returning in this season’s Lexus pulled muscles and had to miss the Irish Hennessy. There’s clearly a doubt about his getting to the race and he does like soft ground, but he’s exactly the sort of formerly high class horse that does win the National if everything falls right.

At this stage though the one I want to be with is Chicago Grey (40/1) who was brought down at the 5th last year. He won the 4 miler at the Festival 2 seasons ago and has already had 19 chase starts so has plenty of experience. His wily trainer Gordon Elliott immediately aimed him at the National after his Cheltenham triumph and it may be a blessing in disguise he got taken out of last year’s race by State Of Play’s fall as he’s 9lb lower now on 141. If Tidal Bay runs then he’ll carry 10-3 and he’s a very classy type to be getting so much weight from most of those at the front of the market.

Chicago Grey obviously stays really well which is crucial now they go so much quicker. He’s hit the deck twice in his 19 chase starts but so had the likes of Neptune Collonges, Don’t Push It and Mon Mome - Paul Carberry rode him last year and he looked to be enjoying the unique obstacles until brought down. With the smaller, softer obstacles and the drops leveled, going down the inside is a big advantage now and if Carberry takes the ride again (Noel Meade has 2 entries) then he’ll have the perfect man for the job. We waited half a century for a grey winner and it might be that we’ll now get consecutive ones taking the world’s most famous race.

Good Luck to you all.

Free bets etc, Make sure you read the Terms and Conditions before opening an account as some dont pay out instantly on free bets and you need to spend more cash to get the winnings

Paddy Power - £25 cashback (expires in 18 hours) for your very first bet when you stake £10 or more on Sportsbook (new accounts only)
Possible £250 free bets (5 x £50 with qualifying stakes)

Coral - £12.50 cashback
£12.50 for new players who deposit and wager £25 at Coral Sportsbook

Open an account with Ladbrokes using promo code THREE10, place a bet of £10 or more on any sport and they will match the stake with a free bet up to £10. They will then credit you with two further £10 free bets in seven day intervals.

Matched £50 first bet

William Hill
Sign up and get your £25: enter promo code F25 when you register
Place your first bet of £5 or more on a selection(s) with single/cumulative odds greater than 1/5 (1.2)
Then Claim your free bet: we’ll match your bet up to £25


Paddy Power - Cashback £20.20
To qualify for the cashback, you must open a new account, and then go on to deposit and stake a minimum of £10 in your first transaction
Possible £250 free bets (5 x £50 with qualifying stakes)

Coral - Cashback £12.62
£12.50 for new players who deposit and wager £25 at Coral Sportsbook

Ladbrokes - Cashback £20.20
Up to £50 free bets + £20 cashback

Betfair - Minimum deposit of £10 is necessary. Cashback - £15.15
Matched bet up to £50

William Hill - Cashback £15.15
Sign up and get your £25: enter promo code F25 when you register
Place your first bet of £5 or more on a selection(s) with single/cumulative odds greater than 1/5 (1.2)
Then Claim your free bet: we’ll match your bet up to £25

Other Offers

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Back a winner at 4/1 or more on any live Channel 4 or either of the day's Featured Races and Bet365 will give you a free bet to the same stake on the next Live race or bet365 Feature Race! If your free bet also wins at odds of 4/1 or more, you qualify for a free bet on the next Live race or bet365 Feature Race. Keep backing those winners and Bet365 keep giving you free bets!.

BetVictor are paying 6 places on this year's Grand National!