Strange Bets & Premonitions

The amount of money staked on the National has steadily increased since it was first shown live on television in the 1960s, it seems to have the same appeal as a lottery. In theory, every horse has a chance in the National, tempting millions who would normally never gamble, into trying their luck.

Punters will risk a pound on a horse whose name, jockey or colours they like. In 2009 Mon Mome romped home at an incredible 100/1, keeping the success of Grand National ‘long shots’, foremost in the public mind.

The majority of ‘once a year’ gamblers will have a straightforward ‘on the nose’ or each-way bet, although the Grand National offers a host of speciality bets, which in the past have included:

  • All horses to jump the first fence safely
  • Winner to be trained in Ireland
  • How many horses will finish
  • Age of the winner
  • A father/son trainer-jockey combination to win
  • Any horse to be leading at the Elbow and lose

The Grand National has a long history of strange bets and ‘spooky’ stories, amongst them are:

In 1871, A certain Lord Poulet had a dream that his horse “The Lamb”, would win the race, ridden by jockey Tommy Pickernell. At the time Pickernell did not actually ride for Lord Poulet, so he wasted no time in hiring him. “The Lamb” and Pickernell started as 11/2 favourites and fulfilled the owner’s dream by winning the race but leaving the bookies sadly out of pocket.

In 1993, Judy Higby from St Albans had a premonition that the race would be called off and tried to place a bet on it not being run. The bookie refused her bet saying such an outcome was impossible, Judy lost out as the race was cancelled after a number of false starts.

In the same year 54-year-old amateur jockey Peter Walker, placed a bet on himself to become the oldest jockey to compete in the race. He hasn’t collected as yet!.

2001, the directors of famous online bookmakers were anticipating huge rewards from their recently launched Chinese site. Unfortunately, they had failed to study the local market and did not recognise the significance of Red Marauder, one of the runners. Red is considered to be the luckiest colour of all in China, so two thousand new customers backed the 33/1 long shot, who romped home to the bookies’ dismay.

2003, Mike Fuller a bingo hall tycoon and the owner of Monty’s Pass the 2003 winner, won nearly £1 million backing his own horse, one bet alone for £10,000 at odds of 50/1 scooped him £500,000.