Coming on the heels of a brilliant 2014 Cheltenham Festival, the Crabbie’s Grand National takes place on Saturday, 5 April.

Strong contenders top the betting, with the Rebecca Curtis-trained Teaforthree, third in last year’s National, the ante-post favourite, ahead of Long Run and Tidal Bay who are also looking strong.

Now sponsored by Crabbie’s, this year’s Grand National will have a £1 million purse for the first time, making the 4m 4f chase even more highly anticipated than usual. The course will be as demanding as ever with 30 challenging fences and 2 circuits standing in the way of victory. (The course has 16 fences, 2 of which — the water jump and The Chair — are bypassed on the second circuit.)

An overwhelming challenge for both horse and jockey, the Grand National fences have historically been the undoing of many a contender. These obstacles include Becher’s Brook — with its landing side lower than the take-off side — and The Chair, with the opposite construction (a higher landing side). Clearing the fences brings no sigh of a relief, however, as the 494-yard homestretch, replete with the infamous “Elbow,” remains.

gnbestoddsTwists and turns abound at the Grand National

Over the years, there have been numerous dramatic moments and unforgettable twists in the National.

Given the unpredictable quality of the event, it is not surprising that legends are made at Aintree. Back in the 1970s Red Rum won the Grand National 3 times and came second twice, an amazing achievement that has never been replicated.

Savvy bettors know that the demanding Aintree course throws the entire concept of favourites to the wind, as long shots like last year’s winner Auroras Encore frequently come from behind to upset the favourites and take the spoils. Last year’s favourite, Seabass, finished the 2013 Grand National in 13th place, evidence of the difficult course that never fails to deliver surprising results.

Grand National Day at Aintree Racecourse is the final — and hands-down most exciting — day of the 3-day Grand National Festival. While the opening day and ladies’ day are crowd pleasers, both for the races and the stellar atmosphere, the Grand National is the event that garners most of the well-deserved attention.

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Betting on the Grand National is expected to break records this year in both the UK and around the world. Most of the £500 million that will be wagered will be done so online, as millions of punters around the world bet the Grand National with convenient and reputable gambling sites like the UK’s venerable bookmaker, William Hill.

Last year’s Grand National ended in a legendary come-from-behind victory for Auroras Encore, who was a 66-1 long shot at the start of the race. Jockey Ryan Mania rode to the finish line to beat out Cappa Bleu and Teaforthree, with Oscar Time and Rare Bob coming in fourth and fifth, respectively.

In a few days’ time, the next Grand National hero will step into the winner’s circle … and history will be made once again.