As the pinnacle of National Hunt racing, the Randox Grand National has been home to some remarkable winners in recent years.

Aintree racecourse has seen over five thousand of the world’s finest thoroughbreds thunder past the post in the 185-year existence of this iconic steeplechase, with a select few going down in history.

During this year’s edition alone, which took place at the renowned racecourse on Saturday 13th April, a total of 34 horses raced, with I Am Maximus (trainer: Willie Mullins) emerging as the victor.

With the sport of horse racing becoming increasingly more popular, particularly as budding punters have more access to online betting markets, let’s take a closer look at the performance of two of the most notable winners in recent times, and explore whether there’s a formula for predicting Grand National champions.

The Grand National

Held annually at Aintree Racecourse, the National, as it’s affectionately known, is the most challenging steeplechase in the National Hunt calendar.

Although you can get to know everything about horse racing with Oddschecker, if you’re completely new to betting on the sport, National Hunt racing is a type of competition that is contested over jumps and hurdles — it’s often known colloquially as jumps racing.

The race itself is actually the showpiece event of a three-day festival that also features novice races and the sartorial highlight of Ladies Day, alongside the Grand National Day itself.

One of the defining features of this chase is its handicap format, where each horse is assigned a weight based on its ability.

This effectively levels the field to ensure a properly competitive race and, with up to 40 runners participating every year and a huge audience of punters (both in person and online) placing wagers, a competitive field is essential.

Greatest Recent National Winners

The festival has spanned two centuries, so naturally there have been some remarkable horses and jockeys participating in the event.

Runners like Red Rum and Aldaniti are some of the most notable winners of all-time but, in this article, we’ll focus on two standout champions who have stormed home to win in very recent history.

Tiger Roll (2018, 2019)

Jockey: Davy Russell
Trainer: Gordon Elliott
Owner: Michael O’Leary

Tiger Roll’s incredible back-to-back victories last decade solidified his place as a Grand National legend.

Not only did he achieve a win at one of the toughest steeplechases in the European racing calendar in 2018, he also became the first horse since Red Rum to win consecutive Nationals by pulling off another stunning victory in 2019.

Tiger Roll had two extraordinary lead-ups to his back to back wins, snaring the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham in 2018 and 2019.

In 2019, he also impressed with first place at the Boyne Hurdle at Navan. Each year, Tiger Roll showed superb form, particularly in 2019 when he raced home at a comfortable distance at both Cheltenham and Aintree.

Minella Times (2021)

Jockey: Rachael Blackmore
Trainer: Henry de Bromhead
Owner: J.P. McManus

When 2021 Grand National winner Minella Times raced home, his win wasn’t just notable for owner J.P. McManus and the many punters who’d been backing him, it also represented a breakthrough in this traditionally male-dominated sport.

Minella Times was expertly ridden by Rachael Blackmore in this strenuous race, the first ever female jockey to take home the title of champion jockey at the Grand National.

In the weeks leading up to the race, he displayed notable wins at Leopardstown, scooping the Ladbrokes Trophy Handicap Chase and the Cheltenham Festival, where he placed first in the Paddy Power Plate (also ridden by Blackmore).

Is there a Formula for Predicting National Winners?

As with most elite-level races, the Grand National is notoriously unpredictable, making it difficult to accurately determine the horse most likely to win each year.

However, certain trends can provide insights into potential champions. Horses carrying lower weights have performed well historically, as have those with experience in staying races, such as the Royal Ascot Gold Cup, and placements in cross country events.

Some trainers have also developed a strong track record of success at Aintree. Gordon Elliott and fellow Irish trainer Willie Mullins are both powerhouse horse whisperers with exemplary track records in the race.

Meanwhile, jockeys with prior National placements are often invaluable assets.