THE world’s greatest betting race takes place this weekend. Yes, folks, we can only be talking about the Grand National.

A total of 40 runners will go to post at 5.15pm on Saturday for the most exciting race in the world. Everybody and their granny has a bet in the National and our usual sound advice to all punters out there is get in early, get your bets done and get out before the stampede begins - and believe me, it will.

Check our opening times this weekend for your local bookmakers. Sean Graham’s outlets will open their doors at 9am on Saturday morning.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the big race on Saturday. We got it down to 10 live contenders on Monday and now we’ve got it down to a uneasy shortlist of four - and that was pretty hard work. One thing about the National is that all four predictions could fall at the first. The National, my friends, is about 80 per cent luck and 20 per cent skill.

A wee stat that catches the eye and stands out is that nine from the last 17 winners had not seen a National fence prior to winning the race so experience does not always come into it. Now, onto where the PG’s money is going this Saturday and let’s hope the winner comes from our shortlist.

  1. SAPHIR DU RHEU 20/1: We start with our main hope for the race and the Paul Nicholls-trained Saphir Du Rheu gets our vote after a cracking run behind Sizing John in the Gold Cup where he finished a staying on fifth. It was at the Merseyside track the grey looked a potential superstar when winning the Mildmay Novices' Chase by 15 lengths, but has really been out-of-sorts since that romp. However, that Gold Cup run makes him a big player on Saturday and if he negotiates the National fences then he looks super each-way value at 20s. With Sean Graham paying first five home, then it makes even more sense.

  1. MORE OF THAT 14/1: Again we revisit the Gold Cup and the 2014 World Hurdle winner was another horse that bounced back to form in that Gold Cup finishing a staying-on sixth. With the Jonjo O’Neill horses coming into form, he looks a major player and is as low as 14/1 with Sean Graham Bookmakers as our paper hits the press.

  1. UCELLO CONTI 20/1 : Gordon Elliott put his name on the training map when he won the 2007 with 33/1 shot Silver Birch and the rest as they say, is history.He is back this year with a couple of big chances with Cause of Causes a probable favourite for the race. We like Ucello Conti who finished sixth last year and has been running well in handicaps. This race has been on the mind of the owners all season, so he could be a each-way snip at 20s

  1. THE LAST SAMURAI 14/1: Our last selection and possible top-weight went oh-so-close last year, finishing a gallant second behind Rule The World. He loves it round Aintree and again is a big, big player. David Bass takes the ride on the Kim Bailey-trained horse and he will again have his supporters come Saturday evening.

Good luck to whatever you bet on this weekend and let’s hope all horses come back safe and sound.

Weekend soccer

Onto the weekend soccer and we go again after last week when we had 3/4 in the quad, 4/5 in the acca and 11/12 in the goalrush.

PG QUAD: We start with the quad and suggest wins for Newcastle (11/8), Aston Villa (13/10), Walsall (21/10) and Leeds (1/1).

PG ACCA: The odds-on acca bet is Fulham (4/7) Wigan (8/15), Cambridge (1/2), Portsmouth (2/5) and finishing with Dunfermline (4/5).

PG DRAW TRIXIE: West Brom v Southampton, Middlesbrough v Burnley and Bristol City v Wolverhampton.

PG GOALRUSH: Stoke v Liverpool; Bristol City v Wolverhampton; Scunthorpe v Bolton; Morecambe v Hartlepool; Chester v York and finishing with the Sutton Utd v Southport game.

The PG will be on our popular Twitter/Facebook feeds throughout the Aintree meeting with free bets and selections on ALL races - make sure you check us out.

Back next week with the Irish National preview and Easter racing.