A professional punter who first predicted the winner of the Grand National when he was just seven – and almost got expelled from primary school two years later for running a sweepstake – has offered his tips for this year’s big race.

Entrepreneur Richard Ward, 40, of Kirkheaton, is now the brains behind the fun horse racing app Last Horse Standing.

Richard has a lifelong passion for horse racing and in 1988 and 1989 predicted the winners of the big race, which now has up to 40 runners.

Huddersfield Town fan Richard, who previously syndicated a Town-themed racehorse called Huddersfilly Town, recalled: “In 1988 and 1989 I predicted the winners in the Grand National, so by 1990 people asked me for tips.

“When I was nine and at primary school, I started running a weekly sweepstake with a whopping £5 prize to the winner – and £3 to me!

“I recorded the final stages of the races on cassette and played it back every Friday lunchtime in the school playground, with lots of children huddled around to listen.”

READ MORE: What Last Horse Standing is all about

After six weeks the sweepstake became hugely popular with Richard’s classmates – but less so with the head teacher, who called in his parents.

“My dad wanted to be mad but instead he praised the business model,” grinned Richard.

Richard Ward when he was a mascot at Huddersfield Town in 1989.

A year before, Richard had been the mascot at Town’s game against Northampton Town and in the matchday programme his favourite hobby was listed as – horse racing!

A late equaliser from Graham Mitchell saved Richard from being known as an ‘unlucky mascot!’

Richard’s top five tips for the 2022 Grand National at Aintree are: Delta Work, Fiddlerontheroof, Eclair Surf, Santini and Lostintranslation.

Delta Work is trained by top Irish trainer Gordon Elliott, owned by Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary and beat two-times Grand National winner Tiger Roll at the Cheltenham Festival in March. It’s around a 10-1 chance with most bookies.

For those looking for a bigger price each-way, Lostintranslation is around 66-1 and Santini 40-1. The race is at 5.15pm on Saturday April 9 on ITV1.

Last Horse Standing, which is free to download, will be running a game for the National. The game is also free to play and the aim is to predict which horses will finish in a series of races.

Winners share a £1,000 weekly prize pot though the prizemoney will be doubled to £2,000 if 2,000 people enter on National day.

Search for Last Horse Standing on the app store.