The Grand National is a unique British phenomenon. No other horse race enjoys as much attention, garners as many newspaper column inches, or generates as much media buzz. In fact, no other horse race even comes close. It feels as if the entire country holds its collective breath for those tense 12 minutes, as all eyes focus on the runners and riders facing one of jump racing's most unforgiving tests of strength and stamina.
It's also a unique phenomenon in sports betting. People of all ages, from all walks of life, follow a strong tradition of placing a bet on the Grand National every year, regardless of whether they follow the National Hunt or not. For many, this will be the only horse racing bet - or the only bet of any kind - that they place for the entire year.
It's for this reason that bookmakers take on extra staff to deal with demand, and there's always a scramble to get the very latest odds for the Grand National racing festival.
The Grand National is renowned for its surprises - the pre-race favourites often failing to live up to their potential - which only adds to the thrill of betting on the race.
In many ways, the excitement of the Grand National is carried by its own momentum. Regardless of the occasional terrorism threats or welfare concerns, it always manages to emerge unscathed, and shows no sign of decline. Recent years have seen record-breaking amounts bet on the Grand National, and it's now more popular than ever before.
In part, this is due to its establishment as one of British sport's crown jewels. It enjoys the same official protection as the FA Cup Final, Wimbledon and the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final, as one of those occasions of national importance that cannot be sold off to pay TV. It's also a bona fide national treasure - an evocative image of British culture, tradition and history that the nation instinctively wants to support and preserve.
The Grand National officially began in 1839, and it was in that very first race that the name of Captain Martin Becher was immortalised when he fell off his horse, the Duke, into that now-famous brook. It's a testament to the Grand National's status that even some of the individual jumps of the race are nationally and internationally famous in their own right. Becher's Brook, Canal Turn and the Chair are jump names that strike fear into the hearts of jockeys, but for the rest of us, they have become synonymous with the thrilling excitement of the race.
The names of the winning horses throughout the history of the Grand National also echo in people's minds: from Lottery and The Colonel, through to Golden Miller, Manifesto, Seagram, Mr Frisk and of course the leader of the pack, Red Rum.
More recently, Don't Push It, Ballabriggs, Neptune Collonges, Auroras Encore and Pineau de Re have raced their way into the history books. As once again the excitement and anticipation builds up for this year's Grand National, this iconic race shows no signs of slowing down.
To learn more about the Grand National and how you can get involved with the event visit William Hill Grand National Day
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