The Grand National is a horse racing that attracts millions of viewers every year – many of whom have never even experienced racing betting before. If you’re new to the world of horse racing betting then you might not know what weights and handicaps are all about.
After all, why would you add more weight to a horse if it’s only going to slow them down? Well, Paddy Power is here to explain what Grand National weights are all about and why horses carry different handicaps heading into the big race.
What is a horse racing handicap?
Before we look at Grand National weights, it’s best to understand what the handicap system is all about. In horse racing, a handicapper’s job is to try and balance out the field so each horse as a good chance of winning. Doing this means events can attract horses of varying speed and quality to the same race and make those races competitive.
To slow down the ‘better’ horses and give the ‘lesser’ ones a fighting chance, handicappers will calculate how many lead weights must be added to the saddle of each horse. Factors such as age and sex of horse, jockey experience and form go into handicapping. A horse that has strong form will likely have more weight added to their saddle, thus making the competition more even.
Handicaps are determined like an index. Often there is a maximum weight allotted and then horses are discounted weight if they qualify for allowances or conditions. You will see the weights written on a race card like so: ‘Weight 11-5‘. This means the horse is carrying 11 stone and 5 pounds, which includes the jockey, their riding equipment, the saddle and the lead weights.
How Grand National weights work
When it comes to the Grand National the handicapper can only go up to a maximum of 11st 10lbs on weight. The minimum weight is 10st regardless of whether or not the horse’s rating merits a lesser weight.
Handicappers will look at the form of each horse, as well as other factors, to determine the Official Rating and therefore the weight they should carry in the Grand National. Weights for each horse are announced in the February before the Grand National, which means even if a horse wins a race after that, their weight will not change.
Do Grand National weights affect my bet?
Yes. Weights are one of the key things to look at when considering betting on the Grand National. After all, a horse that is carrying the maximum load may struggle to handle the 30-fence course. However, weights aren’t always a bad thing. Often weights are added to bring a horse’s odds into line with others, and if the horse really is a standout favourite to win the Grand National then additional lead plates in their saddle may not bother it.
Grand National winners with biggest weight
Since 1950 there have been 20 Grand National winners carrying a weight of 11st or greater. But the ultimate champion in this race when it comes to handicaps will always be Red Rum. The horse racing icon won the 1974 Grand National carrying 12st – a feat not seen since Reynoldstown won his second Grand National in 1936 with 12st 2lbs on his back.
Here are the top eight winners in regards to handicap of the Grand National:
- Cloister, 1893 – 12-7
- Jerry M, 1912 – 12-7
- Manifesto, 1899 – 12-7
- Poethlyn, 1919 – 12-7
- Sprig, 1927 – 12-4
- Golden Miller, 1934 – 12-2
- Reynoldstown, 1936 – 12-2
- Red Rum, 1974 – 12
The maximum weight carried at the Grand National these days is 11st 10lbs after the rules were changed in 2009.
- What does it mean when a horse is On the Bridle?
- What is a Black type horse race?
- What are the different types of going in horse racing?
- What is a bumper horse race?
- What are blinkers and why do some horses wear them?
- What is an Allowance Race in horse racing?
- What is the difference between hurdles and fences in National Hunt racing?
- What is a halter and why do some horses wear them?
- What does it mean when a horse has spread a plate?
- What is the Rule 4 betting rule in horse racing?
- What is the difference between graded, handicap and selling horse races?
- What does a novice hurdle in horse racing mean?
- What is a listed horse race?
- What does a novice chase in horse racing mean?
- Why do race horses have different ratings and what do they mean?
- When does the National Hunt season start and when does it end?
- Why are there different grades of horse race?
- Why are there 3 different types of National Hunt race?
- Why are race horses given different weights and what does it mean?
- How many different classes of horse race are there?
- What is a claiming race and what do they mean?
- What is an optional claimer in horse racing?
- What is a shadow roll and why do some race horses wear them?
- Why do some races start from stalls and some not?
- What is the difference between Derby and Oaks races?
- What does it mean when a horse knuckles during a horse race?
- What is a stayer in horse racing?
- What is a yearling horse and when are they ready to race?
- What does it mean if a horse has won a point race?
- What does a maiden mean in horse racing?
- How are horses’ ages calculated and why is it not the same as humans?
- What advantages do apprentice jockeys get when riding against professionals?
- What is a conditional jockey?
- What does the term ‘connections’ mean in horse racing?
- Why do some horses wear cheekpieces?
- Who are the stewards in horse racing?
- What does ‘weighed in’ mean at the end of a horse race?
- What is a nursery race?
- Why are some National Hunt races run without fences?
- Why are some horses given a tongue tie during races?
- What does it mean when a horse is ‘pushed out’?
- How are horse racing ratings calculated?
- What does it mean when a horse has a ‘wind operation’?
- How high are the fences and hurdles in horse racing?
- What is an apprentice jockey?
- What is a Bull Ring in horse racing?
- What does the phrase ‘Look of Eagles’ mean in horse racing?
- Why do some horses wear a ‘weight cloth’ during races?
- What is the Triple Crown in horse racing?
- What is a Steeplechase race in horse racing?
- How high are the Cheltenham Festival fences and hurdles?
- Why is the Champion Chase named after the Queen Mother?
- Why does Cheltenham racecourse have an Old Course and a New Course? What’s the differences between the two?
- What is the Cheltenham roar? What difference does it make in races?
- Why are there no jumps in the Cheltenham Festival Champion Bumper?
- How many fans usually attend the Cheltenham Festival? How big is the capacity?
- What is a juvenile in horse racing?
- Grand National fence names and the stories behind every Aintree jump
- How high are Grand National fences at Aintree Racecourse?
- What are Grand National fences made of at Aintree Racecourse?
- Grand National fences: Order of jumps, total and which are taken twice
- Grand National weights: Why do horses carry different weights at Aintree?
- How many people usually attend the Grand National? What is Aintree’s capacity?
- What is the distance of the Grand National? How far do the horses run?
- How does a horse qualify for the Grand National?
- Do Grand National reserve horses ever run in the race at Aintree?