The Grand National is finally upon us.
The 2018 edition of the 40-horse race promises to be one of the most exciting in recent history, and if you’re still scratching your head wondering which runner to put a bet on, we’ve got some helpful tips. While the Grand National is one of the most unpredictable races in the world (particularly on soft ground), past trends can provide us with a few clues as to the outcome of the race. Trends will never point towards a clear winner, but they can certainly show us which horses to avoid.
When picking your Grand National runner always make sure to keep an eye on the horse’s age. If you’re going to back a younger horse, make sure it is at least over 7-years-old. No 7yo has won the race since Bogskar in 1940. Older horses should also be met with caution, the only 12yo to claim victory at the National since 1995 was Amberleigh House in 2004, and make sure to avoid 13-year-olds entirely. The last 13yo to win the race was Sergeant Murphy, way back in 1923.
Considering that the Grand National is a steeplechase, it’s always worth picking a horse than has jumped well in the past. Only one of the last 21 horses to win the Grand National has either fallen or unseated their jockey more than twice in their previous races. This could spell bad news for favourite Total Recall, who has experienced two falls and one unseat over the last few years. If the horse has experienced problems over the jumps in the past – steer clear.
The last horse to win the Grand National from the top of the weight handicap was Red Rum back in 1977. Since then, only 2015 winner Many Clouds has won the race carrying more than 11st 7lbs. At 4m2.5f the Grand National is a long demanding race, and carrying a heavier weight is going to have a significant impact. The highest-weighted horses will be given preference in a maximum field of 40, but try to avoid the runners lugging too much around. Many experts believe that this trend is changing, but if your pick is pushing 11st 5lbs it could start to struggle late on.
The favourite may seem like the logical choice, but the Grand National has rarely been a race for favourites over the last couple of decades. The last outright favourite to win at the National was Hedgehunter back in 2005, and since then, only two joint-favourites have finished first (2008 and 2010). In fact, the average starting odds of the last six winners is 32/1, which suggests that the event is more open than ever before. Pick carefully, but don’t turn your nose up at longer odds.