Every year as April dawns, the thoughts of the racing community turns to picking a Grand National Winner. Possibly the greatest steeplechase in the world, the race was established in 1839 and is held at Aintree Racecourse annually.
For months before the race, the build-up is incredible. The entries are announced at the end of January and the allocation of the weights is revealed two weeks later. That is followed by a series of scratching stages when potential runners are either withdrawn or declared.
By the time the Aintree festival begins in April, everybody is talking about the Grand National and the forty runners and riders that will take part.
On race day, the excitement can be felt across the country as the jockeys tussle for a position in the line up before the race begins. The tape goes up and the thunder sounds as the pack hurtle on to the first fence. The Grand National has a reputation that, more than any other race, brings the nation together for a collective flutter on the outcome. In fact, the total gambled on the event every year is a staggering £250,000,000.
How to Pick a Grand National Winner
So with that in mind how do you pick a winner? I mean, horses like Red Rum and Tiger Roll are extremely rare. It is fair to say that Tiger Roll would have been a very good choice for your bet this year had the race not been canceled.
But, the Grand National, like its Welsh National counterpart, is a tough race with huge fences, and predicting a race winner is never a simple thing. In fact, picking a Grand National winner can be a bit of a lottery, even the first winner of the National was called ‘Lottery’. So, here is our simple guide to picking a Grand National winner.
Age of the Horse
One of the clear statistics that stands out when looking at past winners of the Grand National is age. For example, most of the winners over the last ten years have been between the ages of 8 to 11.
In fact, no seven-year-old runner has won the Grand National since 1940. On top of that, there is a significant number of younger horses who just don’t finish the race.
Since 2010, there have been three eight-year-old winners, two nine-year-old winners, two ten-year-olds and three eleven-year-olds. So with stats like that, it’s a pretty good marker to start with.
Now, one thing to be aware of is that over the last thirty years, every winner of the Grand National has run in excess of eight hurdle races. It’s fair to say, that the Grand National favours horses that are extremely good at jumping.
So to add to that, horses that have previously run in the National will always be a good bet due to their experience. On top of this, it’s always good to check on when they last ran. The majority of the winners over the last ten years have not run for at least 50 days. Keeping the horse fresh for the race is always a good tactic.
Weight and Stamina
Let’s not beat about the bush here, the Grand National is a brutal race and a significant test of the horse and rider. Think of it as being like an ultra marathon.
It is clear that if a horse is not a strong stayer it doesn’t stand a chance over four miles. However, a horse may have a lot of stamina but if the weight they are carrying exceeds eleven stone, the stats are not good at all.
Yes, there has been an odd exception like the Gordon Elliott trained Tiger Roll who carried 11-05 in 2019, but as mentioned before, horses like Tiger Roll are the exception to the rule.
The Last Ten Grand National Winners
|2020 Grand National Cancelled due to the Coronavirus|
|2019||Tiger Roll||(9yo, 11st 5lb, 4/1)|
|2018||Tiger Roll||(8yo, 10st 13lb, 10/1)|
|2017||One For Arthur||(8yo, 10st 11lb, 14/1)|
|2016||Rule The World||(9yo, 10st 7lb, 33/1)|
|2015||Many Clouds||(8yo, 11st 9lb, 25/1)|
|2014||Pineau De Re||(11yo, 10st 6lb, 25/1)|
|2013||Auroras Encore||(11yo, 10st 3lb, 66/1)|
|2012||Neptune Collonges||(11yo, 11st 6lb, 33/1)|
|2011||Ballabriggs||(10yo, 11st, 14/1)|
|2010||Don’t Push It||(10yo, 11st 5lb, 10/1)|
Now, some may still pick a Grand National winner just on name alone. And, with the huge number of variables in place in such a frantic race, it can be just as good a way to pick the winner as any.
But, it’s fair to say that there has been a solid pattern over the years. So, whilst our recommendations on how to pick a Grand National Winner is by no means a guarantee for success, it sure does provide some statistical reasons for making next year’s choice.