Nine of the past ten previous winners, shared the following characteristics –
- 9 to 12 years old
- handicap rating above 135 on the day
- weight of 11 stone 6lb or under
- won over at least three miles
- run in at least ten chases
- won a chase worth at least £13,000
The reason trainers run their Grand National hopes over hurdles is to protect their chase handicap mark. Horses have different handicap ratings for whether they are running over hurdles or chases. Should a horse run well in a chase early in the year then their handicap mark will be increased and this then makes their chances of winning the Grand National much harder.
Its no surprise then that…
6 OF THE LAST 10 GRAND NATIONAL WINNERS RAN OVER HURDLES IN THE SEASON THEY WON THE GRAND NATIONAL. (Comply Or Die, Neptune Colonges, Auroras Encore and Many Clouds did not)
Stamina reserves and jumping ability are the two most crucial requirements for a Grand National winner. Younger horses have a poor record in the race which is probably because they tend to have more speed than stamina.
As horses age, like humans, they tend to lose speed and gain stamina. With so many difficult jumps, experience is the key to success.
We have to go back to 1940 to find a horse younger than 8 has won the Grand National.
Much older horses also tend to struggle in the Grand National as a horse needs to be in its prime to survive the tests of the World’s greatest race.
The peak for a staying chaser is thought to be around 9 – 11 years old. Grand National trends back this up with 9 of the last 10 winners coming from this age group.
We have to go back to 1923 to find a horse older than 12 that won the Grand National
Focus on horses aged 9-11. The 2013 winner Auroras Encore was aged 11 and none of the first six home was aged under 9. In 2011 horses aged 9-11 filled the first ten places
It may seem like an obvious statement, but every year thousands of pounds are lost on horses that don’t have the class to win a Grand National.
Most recent Grand National winners ran off an official rating over 136 with only Bobby Jo (1999) and Little Polvier (1989) winning from “out of the handicap”.
Stamina is a critical ingredient for winning the Grand National. Every year we see very talented 2.5 milers that the public & press get behind, yet they never seem to last home.
Gay Trip (1970) was the last Grand National winner who hadn’t previously won over at least three miles!
The 2012 joint favourite Seabass had only won over 2m 6f and it looked like his stamina ran out in the final stages of the race. The BHA have taken steps to reduce the possibility of horses running the Grand National who have lots to find on stamina but it should still pay to concentrate on those horses who have categorically proved their stamina.
Grand National tips – if a horse hasn’t previously won over at least three miles then you are taking a big chance that its first long distance win will be the Grand National. Concentrate on those with proven stamina. The 2014 winner Pineau De Re had confirmed his stamina by winning two chases over three miles. 2013 winner Auroras Encore had previously finished a head second in the four mile Scottish National.
Ability to Perform in Top Races….
Each of the last ten winners had proven ability in a top race.
Every winner in the last ten years had won a race worth at least £13,000.
Its far safer to concentrate on runners with proven ability. These horses have shown that they are capable of winning and that they can handle the conditions of a competitive race. Concentrate on horses with proven ability in a decent class race.
Horses with little jumping experience don’t win Grand Nationals. To jump these large, difficult obstacles, a horse needs to have the confidence behind them which they have gained by jumping plenty of fences before.
Schooling on the training grounds doesn’t make up for real experience at the race course.
Each of the last 10 Grand National winners had run at least ten times over fences before the start on the big day at Aintree.
Grand National tips – this normally eliminates a few novices and those with little experience due to being off the course with injuries.
A tired and over raced horse can’t be expected to beat 39 other horses in the toughest race on earth. Horses who aren’t at peak fitness will struggle.
The Grand National is usually run around three-four weeks after the Cheltenham Festival and many horses will have been trained so that they peak in time for Cheltenham, not Aintree.
Some would think that this leaves them at a big disadvantage and if they have been in a tough race at the festival, three weeks or so might not be enough time for some of them to recover.
However, in recent years several horses have run well at Cheltenham and gone on to win the National. So maybe this is another trend which is changing.
In recent years Many Clouds (sixth in the Gold Cup), Silver Birch (second in the Cross Country), Bindaree (sixth in the William Hill Chase) Don’t Push It (pulled up in the Pertemps Final) and Pineau De Re (2nd in the Pertemps Final) have gone on to win the Grand National after racing at Cheltenham.
Trainers and Jockeys
Its best to concentrate on the proven ability of the horse rather than the jockey and trainer.
Jockeys can win with their first run in the Grand National whereas some of the best national hunt jockeys have never won the race. A perfect example of this was in 2009 when jockey Liam Treadwell gave Mon Mome the perfect ride to win on his first ride around the Aintree fences.
Some trainers have a better history of training staying chasers and particularly Grand National winners than others. In recent years Nigel Twiston Davies has trained two runners to victory, whilst the late Ginger McCain won his fourth Grand National with Amberleigh House.
- Pay attention to runners from stables with a history of training good staying chasers and Grand National winners but don’t place too much emphasis on this.
- Don’t be put off if your selection has an inexperienced jockey on board – Liam Treadwell for example!
- Richard Johnson is one of the current top jump jockeys yet he has never won a Grand National!
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