The chart below may remind you of your old school timetable but this lesson of “double maths” reveals some interesting trends which could place savvy punters at the top of the class come April the 11th.
It's worth noting that trends are not hard facts and we all know that trends & stats are there to be broken but when you analyse the Grand National results over the past ten years you begin to see significant patterns emerging. Perhaps you could call them coincidences but if you are focusing on consistency in the race these trends are hard to ignore
The first pattern on the chart your eyes are immediately drawn to is the pairing up of the blue and red blocks. It's an indisputable fact that jockey Paul Moloney has finished in the [highlight type=”standard”]first four places in the last six runnings[/highlight] of the Aintree Grand National and on five of those occasions he has paired up with the Welsh trainer Evan Williams.
So will they pair up again in 2015? That’s highly unlikely as all the indications are is that Paul Moloney will ride last year’s fourth placed horse Alvarado again for Fergal O’Brien (33/1 generally). The horse however was formerly trained by Evan Williams and Paul Moloney will still be in those famous colours of the owners Mrs & Mrs Rucker which he has placed in for the last six years.
It was reported last month that Alvarado will have his season mapped out for a return trip to Aintree on April 11th. Trainer Fergal O’Brien said “He had a very hard race at Aintree and the Ruckers (owners), who have forgotten more about the game than I know, wanted to give him a long summer off.”
“We’ll build his season around the one race as he took to it well last year.”
“We’ll start him back at Cheltenham at the end of January, maybe give him a run over hurdles after that to take the freshness out of him before Aintree.”
“We had a lot of luck with him last year and we’ll hope for some more this year.”
O’Brien has also pencilled Alvarado in for a possible tilt at the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster on the same day as Cheltenham (Saturday 24th Jan) and he is rated at 25/1 chance for that race.
Back to the chart and we now need to focus on those green blocks which indicate the wily training skills of Jonjo O’Neill. In recent years Jonjo has launched many a strong assault on the Grand National mainly in part due to helping A.P McCoy gain that elusive National victory which was missing from his C.V. That they managed together in 2010 with Don’t Push It and the two years later Jonjo was just denied by the closest Grand National victory in history when Neptune Collonges pipped Sunnyhillboy on the line.
Shutthefrontdoor (20/1 generally) appears to be Jonjo O’Neills main charge for the Grand National this time around and he duly won his seasonal reappearance in the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Graduation Chase over an extended three miles at Carlisle on November 10th under Barry Geraghty.
Before the race at Carlisle O’Neill told press “We'll see how he is, see what form he is in and then look at the long-distance races. I would say he's a National horse. That's the way I see him at the moment.”
“He's one we'll be shaping that way and hopefully he'll be good enough to go for it. He's not a fast horse, he's a galloper and, touch wood, he's a reasonably good jumper.”
“If he gets into to a nice rhythm round there (Aintree) it would suit him well, so that's where I would like to end up with him.”
Jonjo also looks like he will be represented by Merry King (25/1 generally) so that one is worth noting too.
If we move onto the pink on the chart and we have another back story and current story to tell. Despite being the champion trainer many times in recent years the Grand National had escaped Paul Nicholls’ grasp until the victory of the grey Neptune Collonges in 2012.
Now Paul Nicholls and John Hale have a new young grey horse called Unioniste (25/1 generally) whom they are going to aim at the Grand National this year –weight permitting!
Speaking this week Nicholls said “Until we actually see the weights on the day we won't really know.”
“Who knows what's going to be top weight and how they are going to change on the day?”
“So we won't make any decisions about whether he's going to run or not run until nearer the time.”
So it’s a cautionary watching brief if you are tempted to back Unioniste any time soon.
It’s certainly no pipe dream that we have orange blocks on the chart representing the Pond House stables with more recently David Pipe and latterly his father Martin. The Pipe’s have three “hits” on the chart in the last ten years the best of which being Comply or Die’s win in 2008.
This year it appears Our Father (66/1 generally) is the horse most likely to represented David Pipe at Aintree.
Our Father finished ninth in the Becher Chase in December but he put in a superb round of jumping to finish a close second to Mon Parrain at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
After that race David Pipe said “He has always run well fresh, although has often failed to build on that promise over the course of a season, so it was pleasing to see him run with credit on his second start this term.”
“The obvious target for him is a tilt at the Grand National at Aintree in April – he appeared to take to them (the National fences) last term and confirmed that impression with his performance in the Becher Chase last month.”
“He is due a rise in the weights for this latest effort and hopefully that will be enough to see him secure his place in the line-up.”
Only time will tell if Our Father has a prayer.
And finally we focus on that big yellow block that highlights the odds returned on the winner over the last ten years.
When you study the odds carefully it actually makes quite a strong case to say that difficulty of picking the winner in the last ten years has increased.
- No horse under 10/1 has won in the last six years.
- Five of the last ten winners have been 25/1 or more.
- Average odds over the past ten years = 30.6
And if we extend the odds out further to take into account those who have finished in second, third or fourth place then an interesting picture begins to take shape.
- Average odds of 16/1 for the second placed runners
- More ‘favourites' or those with single digit odds, finish in 3rd place rather than win.
- Fourth place is usually taken by the outsiders with average odds of 35/1.
So what can we take from all of that? The numbers tell us that it's more likely for the race favourite to finish third than to win so avoid straight win bets on the runners with the shortest odds and pay attention to those horses who hover further down the bookies odds because as unlikely as they are to win, their odds are long enough to return a decent amount should they finish in fourth spot.
Alvarado – He is a stayer and has won at over 3m1f and he does seem to enjoy Gd-Soft ground so Aintree suited him…