Not very often does the nation stop, united, to witness an event: the Queen’s Jubilee, William and Kate’s marriage, Wimbledon 2013 when Andy Murray became Britain’s champion.
Today is the Grand National. Across the country groups of friends, colleagues, families, neighbours, sailors, sportsmen will be doing sweepstakes and the bookies are never busier. No matter how large or small the bet, most Brits will want to take their chance at identifying the winning horse. Who will it be?
In our household, opinion differs: my mother opts consistently either way for the rank outsider to maximise her windfall so Wayward Prince is her choice. Without spotting the very good odds initially, Burton Port is my favourite. I am a little partial to this refined wine and it brings memories of many nights out with friends far and wide. Burton Port, if sober and mentally prepared for the race, may make me proud.
My sister and brother-in-law made more rational choices: Across the Bay and Prince de Beauchene because they had different odds (and nice colours) versus Big Shu with good odds and Vesper Bell who jumps well and has good, long odds.
Of course, in the sweepstake we did not get our first choice: mother surreptitiously acquired both Burton Port and Tea for Three (the favourite) and we calculated she would win more in the sweepstake than my either way bet with the bookie. We are Scots and not big spenders!
However, she deserves it. Let the best horse win. 16:10 pm
It is all over by 16:27pm: Pineau de Re and Leighton Aspall won the Grand National with odds of 25:1 and my sister (the lucky one!) won the sweepstake. Balthazar King came second and Double Seven ran in third place. Burton Port went down early in the race: perhaps he needed some Dutch Courage, which he will now regret. Better luck next time. 40 horses set out in the Grand National, only 18 completed but all the horses are well and there was one horse determined to win, with or without his jockey.