Conventional wisdom states that the Grand National is a lottery of a race. How many times have you heard someone repeat this mantra ‘Anyone could win it – you might as well stick a pin in the newspaper’? Well, I can tell you it’s simply not true!
That’s not to say the Nationals’ unique course does not throw up the occasional unexpected winner. The 100/1 shot Foinavon won in 1967 when all the other horses fell but the truth of the matter is that generally Grand National winners fall into a narrow band of statistics. Rarely do winners emerge from outside a specific set of trends and if you know what to look for you can dramatically improve your chances of backing a winner on the big day.
You don’t need to be an expert in horses, form or betting to pick out a winner. In fact you’re not even going to pick a winner! You just need to eliminate the horses that can’t win. Once you’ve followed these simple steps you’ll be left with around 3 or 4 horses that have a great chance of finishing in the places.
Firstly you need to discount any horse aged between 7 and 8 years old. The last 8 year old to win the race was Bindaree back in 2002 and you’ll need to go back to 1940s to find a 7 year old winner! Horses aged 9, 10, 11 have the best records however anything older than that will struggle in this demanding race. Once you’ve removed all the 7 and 8 year olds and those horses 12 years or older you should be left with 25 – 30 runners from a field of 40.
Now it’s time to take a look at the weights the horses will be carrying. The Grand National is a handicap race and this means that good horses will have to carry more weight than the less experienced ones. The aim of handicap is to level up the horses abilities giving each runner a fairer chance of winning.
Last year’s winner Neptune Collonges won carrying a massive 11 stone 5lb, bucking the trend of a winning horse carrying no more than 11 stone. Nevertheless it’s worth noting that only four horses in the last 20 years have won carrying more than 11 stone. The energy sapping effect of these weights will be greater if the ground at Aintree is soft or heavy on the day of the race. Focus on horses carrying between 10 stone 5lb and 11 stone. This will cut the number of runners down even further.
Now you have a manageable list of runners you can look in more detail at individual horses form. Don’t worry you don’t need any expertise, just look for horses that have fallen in previous races. If a horse can’t jump around a standard steeplechase fence at Haydock then he’ll stand little chance of navigating the massive Aintree fences.
You can find that information by Googling the horses name and ‘form’ look for the letter ‘f’ in their recent form, if you see it but a line through that runners name. Don’t hope a horses jumping ability will improve, they don’t suddenly become great jumpers overnight!
Your list should now be getting very short and this is the time to see which horses have never run at Aintree before. Horses are like people, they like and dislike certain places, you’ll want to discount any horse that hasn’t run at Aintree before.
Now you should have 6 or 7 runners on your list, you’ve gotten rid of 30+ no hopers! To whittle it down even further focus on horses who have previously completed a Grand National, even if they finished a long way off the places. It’s amazing how many horses finish outside the places one year and then go on to win the following year!
Now look at the horse’s trainer. Aintree had a few course specialists, trainers who seem to get the best from their horses at the right time. Ted Walsh and Donald McCain horses do very well at Aintree.
After applying all those rules you should have 3 or 4 horses left. I would then back all those horses each-way with Paddy Power bookmaker online. No, that isn’t a shameless plug, the reason I suggest Paddy Power is they payout 5 places on eachway Grand National bets. Other bookies only payout on the first four horse’s home. The backers of ‘In Compliance’ in 2012 gave a big cheer when the 100/1 shot limped home in 5th place!