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Betting on the Grand National

1: On entering your local high street bookmakers, pick up a blank betting slip, normally located in holders or dispensers around the walls of the shop.

2: Decide whether you want to bet to win (meaning the horse has to finish first) or each-way (meaning the horse must finish in first four or five, in the case of the Grand National).

An each-way bet is twice the cost, as the stake goes on the horse both to win, and to be placed.

3: On to the slip, write down the name of your big-race selection(s), the time of the race and the course. e.g. £5 win Idle Talk 4.15 Aintree, or, £5 each-way Idle Talk 4.15 Aintree (with the total stake for the latter coming to £10).

Most bookmakers will accept it if you simply put, for example, £5 win Idle Talk, Grand National.

4: Next you should go to the counter to pay for your bet. The odds you get will be the official starting price. However, if you wish, you can choose to back the horse at the price currently offered by the bookmaker in the shop, by telling the assistant you wish to 'take the price'.

Doing so guarantees you the specific odds that are on offer at the time, so even if the horse's price drops later on, you will still collect at the larger price.

Many major bookmakers will produce betting 'quickslips' specially for the Grand National. These are similar to Lotto tickets and staff will be on hand to show customers how to use these slips.

5: The assistant will hand you back a copy of the betting slip which you should retain, to allow you to collect your winnings should your horse win the Grand National.

6: Should you be lucky enough to back the winner, or for your each-way bet to be placed, you will need to return to your bookmaker (or another shop under the same ownership) and present your betting slip before being rewarded.

For once-a-year punters who do not want to go to a betting shop, placing a bet on the world's most famous steeplechase can be done from the comfort of an armchair these days.

The advent of betting exchanges, along with bookmaker telephone and internet accounts, allows even a recluse to enjoy the thrill of a punt and to take advantage of the Grand National free bets that they offer when first registering an online betting account.

Don't forget, as well as taking advantage of all of the free bets that the bookmakers offer new customers, why not run a Grand National Sweepstake at your place of work or local pub.