For those with an old-fashioned taste for sport at its very finest, the coming and going of the Cheltenham Festival is always a bittersweet moment. It is not often that the scenes and the racing drama that Cheltenham generates is matched. Happily one of the few events that does hit that mark is on the horizon. The Grand National has become not only the UK’s but the whole world’s favorite horse race. Dating all the way back to 1839, it has over the years steadily matured as a spectacle to the point where it stands unique in the sporting calendar. This year’s race is set to be especially memorable.
A peculiar allure
The challenge is not so much to pick the winner – even the most confident tipster is apt to hedge his bets when it comes to what is one of the most unpredictable of races. Instead, the aim must be to savour the rich and complex nature of the occasion, to recognise the art, the craft and the courage shown by those involved and – above all – to talk a good contest. A thorough Grand National betting review is a must for anyone hoping to make the most of the melee that watching the great race involves. Specialists bet365 demonstrate precisely the level of insight that is required to arm you for the fray.
Aside from a working knowledge of the runners and riders, a certain world weary acceptance that the race is all about the drama is also required. The spectacle, the history and the sense of occasion are the main focus rather than actually taking money off the bookmakers. That may be part of the backdrop, but it is at best only a pleasing aftertaste to the National’s peculiarly well-rounded flavour.
An occasion to savour
This year’s running will be more notable than many in recent times. When the great race is run on April 11 it will see the formidable 19-time champion jockey Tony ‘AP’ McCoy riding the race for the very last time.
As much as the huge, roaring grandstands of Aintree ordinarily pull on the emotions, this time around there will be an extra frisson amidst the furore. Not only will there be the usual celebrations of those who have actually managed to back the winner, there will also be a heady outpouring of sentiment to acknowledge McCoy’s status as not only as the greatest of champions but also as one of the most popular exponents of his craft. This year’s spectacle promises to be truly memorable.
When sport is a party
Whether you manage to find a TV station that is covering the race or the online race stream, watching the National is always better surrounded by friends. The social aspect of the spectacle should not be underestimated. If that means a drop of something enlivening and invigorating, then so much the better. That is all part of the National experience.
There will be champagne for the winners – there always is – but the thing about the great race is not so much the winning as the being a part of what continues to develop as one of the world’s most iconic annual sporting occasions. It is that rare thing – an event that is as much a celebration as a competitive contest. Add in the sentiment that McCoy’s farewell will bring to that heady mix and 2015 has a vintage look about it.