Believe it or not there is a fairly reliable set of trends that should allow you to narrow down the field of 40 horses to just one or two that have real chance of winning the Grand National. Based on previous winners’ performances we know that certain criteria are often met by those who have crossed the line first at Aintree.
So here’s a breakdown of what to look out for when picking your Grand National 2012 winner;
Age – No Older Than 12.
You should concentrate on horse that are aged between 8 – 12 as proven by last year’s 10-year-old winner Ballabriggs. In fact in the last 70 years no horse younger than 8 has ever won the Grand National. Why? well it appears that younger horses are more about speed than stamina and often burn themselves out during what is the most gruelling race of the year.
The peak age for a grand national winner is between 9 and 10.
They may also lack the experience needed when it comes to the Aintree fences. These are pretty daunting for any racehorse, but when you’ve never jumped them before they can be a frightening prospect. Horses that are that wee bit old tend to have developed the stamina needed to last the course but older than 12 and it seems you’re too old.
The peak age appears to be between 9-10 and Grand National trends back this up with 10 of the last fifteen winners being aged nine or ten.
Handicap Rating – Above 135
Only 2 of the last 21 winners have fallen outwith an official handicap rating of 136-157. It’s fairly obvious then that you need to be pretty good to win the Grand National. The official rating are handed out by the British Horseracing Authority and in simple terms, the higher the rating the better the horse (you can read more about rating here).
If a horse is rated below 135 on the day of the race it probably isn’t good enough to win.
Again, last year’s winner Ballabriggs fell well within this band on the day of the race.
Stamina – Must have won over 3+ miles
If a horse hasn’t won at a significant distance it’s unlikely that they’ll land their first victory over 3 miles in the Grand National. The arduous 4 mile 4 furlong course is not for the faint-hearted or the unproven.
It’s been over 40 years since a horse, Gay Trip, won the Grand National having never won at more than 3 miles.
Stick to horses with proven stamina, so dig into the horse’s previous history and make sure they’ve won at a decent distance.
Big Race Winners – Won a purse over £17k
Its no secret that the Grand National winner needs to proven ability in the top races. Those top races usually carry the biggest purse for the winner and serve as a good indication of the Class of race and the quality of opposition. A horse that’s won a big race is to be be favoured.
Every winner in the last 12 years has won a race of over £17,000 prior to winning the Grand National.
Experience Over the Jumps
Rule out the novices and look for horses that have bags of experience when it comes to jumping.
Each of the last 10 winners had experienced jump racing more than 10 times before the Grand National race
The Grand National fences are the biggest that these horses will ever come up against so make sure your horse has plenty of race experience, at least ten races over National Hunt fences.
Weight – Under 11st 5lb
Last but by no means least is the weight that the horse carries and incredibly, since the war, only 5 Grand Nationals have been won by horses carrying over 11st 5lb and two of those were the legendary Red Rum. The Grand National is the toughest test of any national hunt chaser and at such a long distance to race the weights certainly seem to influence the outcome.
Only 5 winners have carried more than 11st 5lb to Grand National victory since the war
Every pound carries makes a huge difference so make sure to pick a horse that’s on or under the 11st 5lb mark. In 2010 Don’t Push It almost bucked this trend by winning when carrying 11st 5lb exactly.