How To Pick A Winner
When Auroras Encore romped home in the 2013 Grand National pundits everywhere were stunned. He was 11 years old, a lower rated horse, with a recent history of falling with a jockey on board who had never previously even ridden in the Grand National and was without doubt a 66/1 long shot. It just proves that picking a National winner is very difficult but the good news is that it’s not impossible. We can show you a couple of things to look out for when selecting your horses.
BEWARE THE HEAVY WEIGHTS
Generally we would have opted against backing a horse that carried over 11-03 but with the recent trend of Neptune Collonges and Don’t Push It carrying more than that to victory it seems that horses are not as fazed by the added weight they now carry in the Aintree Grand National, particularly if it’s a weight they’ve been used to all season.
For that reason I would say that if a horse has carried up to 11-05 for most of his career then he should be fine. However, if a horse generally carries 10-12 and he’s given 11-07 then that will be incredibly difficult so only look at heavier weighted horses if that’s what they’re already used to.
Don’t forget though that along with Neptune Collonges,’Hedgehunter‘ & ‘Don’t Push It‘ have been the only winners since Corbiere to carry over 11st to victory. The simple fact is that very few horses have managed to win carrying big weights. The 2008 Grand National winner, Comply or Die, weighed 10-09. Mon Mome won in 2009 carrying 11-00, Ballabriggs carried 11-00 in 2011 and Auroras Encore carried 10-03 in 2013.
STAMINA & ENDURANCE
The Grand National is a grueling race, and we’ve always maintained that only horses experienced at running over 3 miles or more can be expected to be in with a shout. New BHA recommendations regarding this have now been put in place so that only horses who have previously finished fourth or better in a chase of 3m or further will be allowed entry. Don’t rule out horses that have previously entered and completed the Grand National, even if they finished nowhere. Mon Mome, Silver Birch, Hedgehunter, Amberleigh House and Montys Pass are all winners who also ran unsuccessfully the year before!
AGE BEFORE BEAUTY
Experience counts for much in the National. Seven of the last ten winners were either nine or ten years old with only Amberleigh House (12) in 2004, Neptune Collonges (11) in 2012 and Auroras Encore (11) in 2013 being the exceptions. But horses are so well trained now that nearly 30% of 2013 Grand National entries were 11 years or older and the three heaviest weights all went to 12-year-olds. But entries is very different to winners so unless the horse is exceptional you should still try to stick to a nine or ten year old and don’t back any seven year olds as it’s been 74 years since one won and few even finish the course!
FRENCH WINNER – NON!
Previously I’ve suggested that you should forget the French bred and trained horses and despite the tremendous win from French horse Mon Mome in 2009, I still stand by that because he was trained by Venetia Williams in the UK! And that also applies to Neptune Collonges, who, although born in France, was trained by Paul Nicholls for seven years before winning in 2012. It has been over a Century since the last French trained horse won the National. Irish and British horses are specifically trained day in and day out, all year around, for this kind of steeplechase so go with one of them!
Every now and then a major upset happens at the Grand National and the rule book goes out the window but if you want to give yourself the best chance of picking a winner then consider our tips…
Go for a nine/ten year old horse that weighs approx. 10-07 to 11-05 stone, who has run and finished at least one previous race of at least three miles, entered with an experienced jockey and, if possible, make it Irish or British!
And finally… sign up with an online bookmaker to avoid the queues at the local bookies on Saturday morning. Paddy Power are giving new customers a free bet if you sign-up today.
The 2011 Winner Proves a Point
Let’s look at the 2011 race – I followed my tips exactly, chose my horses and 1st and 2nd came home, netting me a nice little packet!
I looked at every horse running, ruled out those younger than 9 and older than 10 years, looked at the weights they’d been given and and had a quick gander at the distances they had previously run. What I ended up with was a few terrific horses two of which did exactly as hoped – Ballabriggs came 1st with Oscar Time in 2nd 2011 Grand National.
I plan on doing the same thing this year and my tip is to put aside the odds, it’s such a difficult race that luck is as much a part of it than anything and you can’t put odds on that!
You should also go with your gut instinct. I told anybody who would listen that Ballabriggs was going to win despite the fact that he wasn’t that well known and and there didn’t appear to be much fuss about him before the race. My family and friends listened and backed him, some got on the action at 20/1 – as you can imagine they were all very happy!
Luck is as much a part of it than anything and you can’t put odds on that!
On an even happier little note – for five years in a row I have managed to pick two of the first four home!
Now all you need to do is pick a horse to back using our tips! To view the full list of Grand National runners Click Here. If you’d rather leave the selection of your Grand National horse to fate then why not let Red Rum pick out a horse for you – just Click Here.