The relationship between Horse Racing and Betting in 2016 continues to prove difficult. From protests over Racing’s ABP Scheme, to disputes over the current level of Levy being paid by the betting shops, build up for this Saturday’s Grand National has been somewhat subdued.
However, the race is still hugely anticipated, especially now the 40 runners have been confirmed. Last year’s Many Clouds heads the field, and the bookmakers will be particularly fearful of the 7/1 race favourite securing a repeat triumph. We caught up with BetVictor’s racing expert, Head of Communications Charlie McCann to discuss the big race:
SBC: Charlie, what are your hopes and fears for this year’s Grand National?
CM: I hope that all 30 horses and riders come back safe and sound and we have a wonderful spectacle befitting the greatest horse race in the world; my fears are that Many Clouds lands a nationwide gamble as he bids to become the first horse since the great Red Rum to win the race in successive years. I can see him going off as a very well backed favourite.
SBC: What promotions will BetVictor be running around Saturday’s race?
CM: For the sixth successive year we are the only firm offering 6 places to punters so our message is simple; why bet anywhere else? We will have our usual special markets on the race, e.g. Irish Winner, number of first fence fallers but our USP on the race is that we are betting E/W 6 places; if you back a horse E/W and the firm you back it with offers just 4 or 5 places you will kick yourself if he finishes sixth!
SBC: Have the losses from Cheltenham affected your approach?
CM: No anything but; Cheltenham is confined to the history books and Aintree is a wonderful three-day meeting in its own right; punters are likely to follow the Cheltenham form and we will take another caning if the form holds up this week; we are hoping to see one or two shocks especially in the Saturday highlight.
SBC: That’s good to hear! Approximately how many bets did you take on the 2015 Grand National, and do you expect to surpass this in 2016?
CM: We took nearly half a million bets on the National (including ante post) 12 months ago and will naturally expect to surpass that this year given our continued growth; once we have acquired new customers our challenge is to make sure we are their bookmaker of choice for the Euros this summer and we are confident we can meet the challenge.
SBC: And finally, what is your big tip for this year’s race?
CM: The weather will dictate; if the rain stays away I would be keen on Saint Are and Holywell; if the rains arrive Goonyella and Bishops Road enter the equation. It would be great to see Many Clouds win the race but they will be dark clouds for the bookmaking fraternity if the favourite obliges in the National!
Charlie McCann, Head of Communications