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Everyone Loves An Underdog: Why You Can’t Rule An Outsider Out in the Grand National 

As this year’s Grand National approaches, all eyes turn to horse racing’s elite and their esteemed trainers as they vie for glory at Aintree – one of the most challenging courses in the sport. The excitement and anticipation are palpable, as punters and experts alike pore over the horse racing odds and assess the favourite’s chances of crossing the finish line first when making a Grand National bet. Although the favourites may attract most of the attention, it is often the outsider horses that surprise the racing world and leave a lasting impression.

Indeed, if there was ever a better example of an underdog rewriting the history books it was last year’s champion, Noble Yeats, who defied the odds at 50/1 to win the race to the surprise of everyone. And while it would appear that these dark horses may not have the same level of prestige as their more celebrated competitors, they bring an aura of unpredictability and excitement to the Grand National. 

It is often said that anything can happen in horse racing, and nowhere is that more evident than in this iconic race. Every year, the outsiders make their mark, causing upsets and delivering unforgettable moments that keep fans talking for years to come. If they can navigate the Grand National’s notoriously gruelling course, which includes 30 fences and a distance of over four miles, there’s every chance they can pip one of the favourites to the finishing line. 

Aintree has some of the toughest fences around, and when you combine the sense of the unknown in terms of atmosphere and varying weather conditions alongside the infamous history in some of these fences, it certainly evens the odds. The likes of Becher’s Brook, which has got the better of several previous winners and Gold Cup champions before, as well as The Chair and The Canal Turn, which must be navigated twice at the 8th and 24th, make the race so unique and can provide the chance for an outsider to sneak in and seize their moment. 

This challenge is daunting even for the most experienced and talented horses, and it is often the case that the favourites struggle to cope with the extreme conditions. In contrast, the outsiders can sometimes thrive under these circumstances, as they are not burdened by the same expectations and pressure. They can run with more freedom, and this can lead to unexpected performances that shock the racing world.

There are several outsiders to keep an eye on at this year’s race. With the Irish dominating the Cheltenham Festival, it’s not unlikely that their horses will be there or thereabouts come the National, but with so many different owners and trainers involved, it could be worth backing a smaller stable. Take 33/1 Lifetime Ambition for example. The eight-year-old, owned by Linda Mulcahy and Mary Wolridge, is consistently finishing in the top three or four places of his recent races despite racing against so many experienced horses including recent Gold Cup winner Galopin Des Champs. There is also Willie Mullins-trained Franco De Port, who has long odds of 50/1 but showed he could compete after a third-place finish in the Cross Country Chase. 

When you factor in all these variables, as well as the returning Aintree faithful, passionately cheering on the leaders, it’s virtually impossible to rule out any horse when it comes to the Grand National. The form guide simply goes out the window.