Richard Johnson OBE shares his reverence for the Grand National in this interview with Betway. He gives us a play by play of some of his more memorable National rides over the years, including Celtic Abbey in 1997 (unseated at the chair – but going well until that point),  Edmond in 2001 (fell at fence one), ‘What’s Up Boy’s in 2002 (a close second!) and 2014’s Balthazar King (second again!). With high hopes and near misses over the years he explains what a 2019 Grand National win would mean to him. Can Rock the Kasbah (currently 16-1) do it for Richard Johnson?

3 Horses Who Could Carry Top Weight in the 2019 Grand National

Aintree Racecourse” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Mick Roche

The Grand National has attracted an initial 112 entries for the 2019 renewal of the Aintree showpiece.

As the world’s most famous steeplechase, some class horses have won the extended four-and-a-quarter mile race over two circuits and 30 fences down the years.

This year could see highly rated horses by the BHA line-up on Merseyside heading the 40-runner field on Saturday, 6 April.

While the weights aren’t published alongside initial entries as handicappers produce their own special adjusted ratings for the Grand National, their official marks are an early guide.

With that in mind then, here are three horses who could carry top weight in the 2019 renewal of this ultimate equine test of endurance.

Bristol De Mai

If the Grand National was run at Haydock instead of Aintree, then Bristol De Mai would surely be favourite with bookmakers.

There’s just something about that other Merseyside racecourse that seems to suit the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained, Simon Munir and Isaac Souede owned eight-year-old.

Bristol De Mai has won back-to-back runnings of the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock, but isn’t suited by other tracks that host leading staying chases like Kempton and Cheltenham.

That has earned him a BHA rating of 173, the highest of all potential Grand National runners. While previous Aintree form has Bristol De Mai zero from three, none of his previous career appearances there have come over the spruce-covered fences.

It’s clear that galloping left-handed tracks that are relatively flat suit him. The prospect of carrying top weight if Bristol De Mai runs means he’s 40/1 with most bookmakers to become his trainer’s third winner of the world-famous race.

Anibale Fly

Irish raiders have a 40 per cent Grand National strike rate in the previous two decades, and the first four home in last year’s race were all trained in the Emerald Isle.

In-behind Tiger Roll, Pleasant Company and veteran Bless The Wings at Aintree 12 months ago was Anibale Fly for well-known handicap plotters Tony Martin and JP McManus.

Finishing fourth in the Grand National after placing third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on his previous start meant he was far from disgraced in either.

Anibale Fly is thus a hugely consistent horse in staying chases and fully earned an official rating of 167.

That form and the fact he’s only a nine-year-old now makes him well worth considering as an each-way punt for Aintree again at 33/1 and Grand National free bets available through Oddschecker.

Elegant Escape

A prerequisite of any horse tackling this Merseyside marathon is proof they stay. Stamina is essential, and the eye is drawn to those animals who have won the other National races in Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Elegant Escape improved from second in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury to Welsh Grand National glory on his first try at 3m 5f over Christmas.

That Chepstow victory has seen the seven-year-old’s official rating rise into the 160s and trainer Colin Tizzard has already winners over the Grand National fences.

While they have come in the Topham Chase over a much shorter trip, seven-year-old Elegant Escape may already possess sufficient endurance to have a crack at the big one.

Having carried 11st 8lb on his back when winning the Welsh National, he looks capable of going well under a welter burden. Elegant Escape has Grand National quotes ranging from 25/1 to 14/1 with the bookies, meaning he’s prominent in the betting.

Horse Race Betting Strategies for Dummies


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A lot has been said of what horse racing is all about–a centennial sport, games of the kings and the world for legal gambling. However, only a few decoded on how to win in it when it comes to betting.

True, every player has their own strategy on how to analyze the odds of the races. But what really are the basics a fresh starter bettor should know on how to win at horse racing?

Here are the basic strategies that can be helpful to the new players:

1 Know how to decode the racing forms

One of the most important skills a newbie should develop is honing their handicap. Handicapping is a process on which you can determine which horse has the best chance in winning a race. This is where your creative intelligence will be challenged. How you see things. How you analyze things.

To do this, you need to familiarize the Daily Racing Form (DRF) which you can purchase online or upon entering a race track. The form has all the stats and figures you need to analyze for your bet. Papers like a racetrack program and handicapping tip sheets are important too.

2 Take consideration the race distance

This is one of the biggest factors when it comes to betting. The shorter the track, the faster the race finishes. But if these horses are placed in an unfamiliar longer track their performance differs.

Be mindful of the horse’s capability when it comes to distance, pace, and speed. These factors will definitely help you who wins.

3 The ‘track bias’ taking into account the track and weather

Just like human races, a horse’s performance will also take into account the track and weather. Although these thoroughbreds are trained well for any kind of race, they get used to their training grounds. It would be of everyone’s interest if a trainer decides to enhance its horse performance from a speck of dirt to a turf track.

Add in to your analysis on how a horse performs in any type of weather. This natural factor will mess with a horse’s capability if they’re not used to it.

4 Look into the race history of your chosen horse

It is not in every race wherein a horse gives their 100% of ability which is why it’s a very good strategy for handicappers to look into the race history. By looking into it, you will see the pattern depending on where the horse comes from and if the size of the purse is large enough for them to exert its full strength.

Just like humans, there are also instances that a horse still gets into a race in a bad condition and may have not shown its full capacity on track. These little things matter.

5 Look at the horse post position

In previous horse races, you will see its previous race post and most likely the same in its entered races. It has been a proven analysis that those who are favorable are the ones placed on outside posts in sprint races and the inside post takes the lead on longer furlongs.

6 Be familiar with the different types of bets

There are 8 basic options for betting, you have the ‘Show, Place, Win’, Quinella, Exacta, Trifecta and Superfecta. Familiarize the following before placing a pot of money to your horse/s of choice.

  • Show – your horse can get 1st, 2nd, or 3rd and you win

  • Place – your horse can get 1st or 2nd and you win

  • Win – your horse must get 1st to win

  • Quinella – bet 2 or 3 horses to finish 1st or 2nd, in any order

  • Exacta – bet 2 horses that must finish in 1st and 2nd in exact order

  • Trifecta – bet 3 horses that must finish in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in exact order

  • Superfecta – bet 4 horses that mush finish in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in exact order

7 Keep on track of the odds

Aside from the 8 basics mentioned above, knowing the odds is one of the easiest ways to determine who wins a particular race. Tracking it will give you information on who the other thinks the fastest and how much they will divide from their payouts once the horse wins.

One way to keep track your odds is signing up to some sites like which will show you the most updated and sometimes a real-time record of the contenders.

These are just a few of the basics one should know when they’re new in the field. Since we live in a digital world today, more of these are available online. There are workshops and seminars available too for your taking for you to improve your wagering skills. All you need to do is find the right and best betting site for you.