How To Pick A Grand National Winner – 5 Ways To Improve Your Chances

pick a grand national winner

There are very few moments in sport as exciting as those in early April of each year when the 34 or so runners and riders line up for the greatest horse race there is – the Grand National.

The Grand National is simply the world’s greatest steeplechase. It’s most certainly the most famous race over obstacles in the world, and, for many fans, it’s the greatest horse race of any type, anywhere.

But what is it, exactly, that makes the event so special? And, more importantly, how do you pick a Grand National winner?

Well for starters, it’s very much part and parcel of British culture. If the Cheltenham Festival is the serious side of things, then the Grand National is, at least from the public’s perspective, the fun element of National Hunt racing.

It’s A Big Money Day

Grand National Saturday is the day when pretty much the whole country has a punt on the race.

Fans pick out their favourite horses by name or perhaps because of the colours carried by the jockey.

Later in the afternoon, tens of millions of people in the UK and tens of millions worldwide settled down to watch the four-and-a-half-mile race on TV, with 75,000 more people in the stands at the course.

Over £200 million is thought to be wagered on the Grand National each year

These days, an increasing number of people bet on horse racing online. In fact, over £150 million is now thought to be wagered on the Grand National each year across online bookmakers such as Betfred.

Quite simply – this is the biggest gambling day of the year in the UK when everyone seems to have a flutter.

But the race is a fantastic spectacle, whether you have a bet or not. Most people know at least a little about the history of the great race, which has been held at Aintree racecourse since 1839.

The Legends

The name that has really resonated with almost everyone in the UK in recent years is, of course, the legendary Red Rum, who won an unprecedented three Grand Nationals and also managed to finish second twice in five starts between 1973 and 1977.

Fittingly, Rummy is now buried right next to the winning post at the Aintree course. His late trainer, Ginger McCain, also entered Grand National folklore, and his son Donald entered the record books on his own account in 2011, saddling the winner Ballabriggs.

Jenny Pitman, the first lady trainer to train a National winner with Corbiere back in 1983, is also synonymous with the great race.

The National was also immortalised in film with the movie “National Velvet”, which was made in 1944 and starred a very young Elizabeth Taylor in the main role as Velvet.

She wins the great race while posing as a male jockey. Although the movie and book on which it was based (written by Enid Bagnold) were entirely fictional, they certainly helped spread the fame of the race.

The film remains hugely popular with children the world over to this day.

How To Pick A Grand National Winner

Choosing which horse will win the Grand National each year is perhaps not as difficult as you might imagine.

Legend has it that the race is a complete lottery, and any one of the maximum 34 runners can win.

But this isn’t really borne out by the stats these days. In fact, you can spot a few patterns by looking down the list of winners over the past 40 years or so.

These trends will help you make up a very handy shortlist of entrants for this year’s race (which will be held on April 13th, 2024).

1. Weight

In fact, last year’s Grand National winner, Corach Rambler, was an excellent case in point.

The horse carried a weight of 10 stones 5lbs to victory. And few horses can carry more than 11 stones to win.

Noble Yeats won carrying 10-10 in 2022, and Minella Times did the deed with 10-03 in 2021.

The Grand National is a handicap race, and it takes a very special horse to be able to carry much more than 11 stones, so keep an eye on the weights.

2. Age

The same goes for the horse’s age. Virtually all winners these days are aged 8 or 9.

In the last ten years, only one seven-year-old, Noble Yeats, won the race, and he was the first to do so since 1940.

Likewise for eleven-year-olds who used to have a better record in the race. Pineau De Re in 2014 was the last 11-year-old to win, which was on the back of Auroras Encore in 2013 and Neptune Collonges in 2012.

Only two 12-year-olds have won the Grand National since the legendary Red Rum did so in 1977.

They were Royal Athlete in 1995, and the other winner, Ginger McCain, saddled Amberleigh House, the 2004 winner.

Since then, the average age has dropped, so keep that in mind when reducing your options.

3. The Form

A horses’s form is very important and while any horse can have the race of its life, generally those that are more prone to pulling up or unseating their rider, have less chance of making it around the course at Aintree.

Likewise for horses that like the ground a certain way. So if a horse likes to plod around in the mud, don’t back it if the going is Good or Good to Soft.

The pace will simply be too fast, and it won’t be ideal. The opposite is also true. If it’s consistently raining and the racecourse is heavy, this will only hamper the horses that like it on the dry side.

Have a look at the likes on the Racing Post to get a more in-depth look at the conditions that best suit the runner you fancy and make a more informed decision.

4. The Betting Markets

Next, keep a close eye on the Grand National betting market. It’s generally wise to rule out any horse whose odds are over 50/1 on the day.

You’d miss one or two this way – like the 50/1 winner Noble Yeats in 2022 and the 66-1 winner Auroras Encore in 2013, but these really are exceptions.

As a rule, really long shots and low-rated horses aren’t up to it and may be running for the owner’s sake more than anything else.

However, the caveat is that they can often do well in the place. So, if you are going to back a long shot, do it each way to increase your chances of a return on your bet.

5. Read The Newspapers

Another tip for those of you who want to know how to pick a Grand National winner is to have a quick scan of the newspapers to get more information.

Every major newspaper and publication has its own horse racing expert. They are the people who live and breathe horse racing, and they know horses inside and out.

If a lot of the tipsters are backing the same horse, there’s a good chance it could do well.

It’s not an exact science, but they’ve done the heavy lifting when it comes to research, so paying attention to what they have to say is useful.

If you can put all these things together, there’s a very good chance you’ll have the Grand National winner on your hands.

And whether you do or you don’t – it’s still a wonderful spectacle, it’s completely unique, and it just gets better every year.

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