The Grand National is the trickiest puzzle to solve in racing. But can it be made easier? Racing Tips have looked into the trends created by recent winners to narrow down your shortlist.
A ten-year look at this trend (including 2011 due to no race in 2020) throws up two different mini-eras in itself. Between 2011 and 2014, every horse had moved into double-digits in years, but since 2015, every winner has been aged either eight or nine. As such, it is worth looking for fresher legs if possible. Fewer horses in the veteran stage of their career get into the race with more Graded performers entering, so this does not rule out many.
Seven of the last ten winners had a victory in their previous ten starts and of the other three, two had a second-placed finish in that period. You do not want a horse coming into this in particularly form on the whole. Moreover, three of the last four had won on their most recent outing. Tiger Roll had done so before both of his victories, while One For Arthur had landed the Classic Chase before coming straight to Aintree.
Despite having become a much classier race, it does not always pay to be towards the head of affairs in the handicap. Seven of the previous ten victors were carrying 11st 0lb or less. Moreover, all of those were on a rating of 150 or below, though neither Auroras Encore or possibly Pineau De Re would have got into this year’s renewal off their winning marks. Fortunately for this year’s renewal, 11st 0lb and a rating of 150 almost perfectly coincide to leave the same quantity of horses.
Course experience is no longer what it was in terms of a positive indicator of a National contender’s chances. Only three of the last ten winners had run over the famous fences before, and only one of those had done so in the Grand National itself: Tiger Roll, in his second attempt, having won on the first occasion. The other seven were all making their debuts at the track. Ignorance may now be bliss.
This is well-trodden ground in terms of National Hunt’s balance of power. However, it is still worth pointing out the unsurprising: four of the last five winners of the race have hailed from Irish yards having endured nine years without success between 2007 and 2016. 12 of the 15 finishers were Irish last year, while Blaklion was the highest-placed British-based finisher when coming home in sixth. That said, every handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival went the way of a British-trained horse, so there should be quite a closing of this gap.
Only Pineau De Re and One For Arthur were in the bottom half of the field at any stage of their victories. The former ended up moving into a prominent position relatively early on as well, so whichever way you read it, either eight or nine have raced in a handy position before going on to triumph. You want to be spotting your horse in a decent early pitch and particular prevalence is given to horses who have led or raced with the leaders in one of their more recent starts.
Grand National Trends Verdict
If Eclair Surf sneaks into the 40, he would be the one to appeal most. He may not hail from Ireland, but there has been somewhat of a redressing of the handicapping balance this season. Of those definitely in the field, preference is for Longhouse Poet and Good Boy Bobby. The former is higher in the weights and ratings than ideal, but is an upwardly mobile, prominent-racing chaser, who is of a good age group and would be having his first start over the Grand National fences. The same can be applied to Good Boy Bobby, who is right in the sweet spot for a perfect racing weight and led all the way to win the Rowland Meyrick earlier this season.
We’ve previewed each race and given our selections for the Grand National. If you are looking for tips, visit our Grand National tips page