*Odds quoted on the widget are Future Racing / Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason – you will lose your stake under traditional Antepost rules.
The Grand National declarations are made on Thursday, April 7 when the final runners will be known and the market will be ‘non runner money back’ on all selections.
The only good thing about the end of the Cheltenham Festival is that you’ve always got Aintree around the corner.
There isn’t another race in the calendar where so many people will give an opinion despite not having any basis for one, simply because, apparently, anyone can win a Grand National.
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Technically that’s true – but there are a few do’s and do not do’s that can help you narrow down the likely winner in the 40-runner field and here are six things to give you a steer.
1. Outsiders are rare winners
I know it’s tempting to throw in a big-price selection because this feels like a race where an outsider can win because of the 40 runners and the variables that come with that. However, that doesn’t mean a 50/1 shot is any better a punt in the Grand National than it is around Wincanton on a wet Tuesday.
Over half of the last 30 favourites have finished in the top four, so it’s certainly worth considering those at the top of the market as your starting point.
Only nine of the last 30 winners came from outside the top eight in the betting, so if you want a ‘big’ price winner, you may have to lower your expectations.
2. What age are you?
Often we focus on novices when it comes to picking winners at the Cheltenham Festival in handicap chases, but that’s because they aren’t as exposed as some of the veterans who line up year in, year out. The opposite is true at Aintree as changes in the rules and welfare issues now mean that a good degree of ‘been there, done that’ type runs are required to even get into the race.
The last seven-year-old to win the Grand National was Bogskar in 1940. So that stat rules out Coko Beach as a likely winner this year. It’s also worth noting that although three of the past four winners have been eight-year-olds, 80 per cent of the winners over the past 30 years were nine years of age or older.
3. Worth your weight in gold
The downside of being a seasoned handicapper and always putting in a good run is that you invariably end up at the top of the weights.
In the last 45 years, only two winners have carried 11st 6lbs or more – Neptune Collognes and Many Clouds. So, you can cross out Chris’s Dream, Minella Times, Delta Work, Any Second Now and Easysland being Grand National winners based on these stats.
4. Cheltenham comedown
If your selection has had a tough run at Cheltenham just 20 days ago, it’s possible they’ll feel the effects of that race in the latter stages of this 4m 2f contest or it was never the intention to be a live contender for the National in the first place.
He may be the ante-post favourite but the fact that Delta Work carries 11st 8lbs on Saturday, makes me very wary of siding with Gordon Elliott’s runner completing the Cheltenham Cross Country / Aintree Grand National double like Silver Birch and Tiger Roll before him/
He looked exhausted at the end of the Cross Country Chase and probably still hasn’t recovered from being the only winner at Cheltenham to be booed (in a friendly way) the whole way back to the parade ring. On the basis of a tough race leaving its mark, especially over those 3m+ staying chases, I’ll be discounting Mount Ida, Death Duty, Noble Yeats and Santini too after their Cheltenham exertions.
5. Been for a run lately
To compound the issue of having too hard a race recently there’s also the stat of having run too long ago to consider. You generally need to have had a run in the last two months to win the Aintree Grand National. It’s far too big an ask to come in fresh and outstay race-fit horses over this extremem distance of 4m 2f, Virtually all of the last 30 winners have had a run around over the previous 56 days.
Battleoverdoyen hasn’t been seen since January 23rd, Chatham Street Lad will be off-course over 140 days by the time the flag goes up for the start and Farclas last ran in the Troytown Chase at Navan before Christmas.
And while the previous year’s Irish National is usually a good indicator, the Fairyhouse winner Freewheelin’ Dylan was last seen when pulling up in early January.
Commodore would be a popular selection if he got a run, but the nine year old hasn’t been seen since the Betfair Chase over 120 days ago.
Highland Hunter and Enjoy D’allen are also likely to be popular picks who I’d advise against. Both are slightly outside the two-month threshold.
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6. Up with the pace
Let’s discuss how difficult it is to pass runners 40 runners if your pick needs to come from off the pace. Even if the horse in front of you doesn’t stumble or fall, you’re only going to be travelling as well as they are for most of the race.
Take a look at the last 10 winners: Minella Times – chased leaders. Tiger Roll – never far away. Rule The World – in touch. Many Clouds – tracked leaders on the inside. Pineau De Re – mid-division at worst. Auroras Encore – always prominent. Ballabriggs – in touch and Don’t Push It – mid-division at worst.
The only horses to actually come from far back the field to win the Aintree Grand National in the last decade are One For Arthur (2017) and Neptune Collognes (2012). Based on their run style, you couldn’t be confident backing Fiddlerontheroof, De Rasher Counter, Discorama or Kildisart – especially if the going is good as it will be harder to catch and pass the front runners.
So who wins?
So, after all the number crunching, where does that leave us? Based on the stats and trends these 6 horses shouldn’t be too far away at the end of the 34-furlong showcase event at 5.15pm on Saturday.
*Odds quoted on the widget are Future Racing / Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason – you will lose your stake under traditional Antepost rules
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