The Grand National is arguably the most famous horse race in the world, but readers who don’t follow horse racing regularly may not know it isn’t considered to be the highest quality horse race in the jump racing calendar.
That said, you do need a horse with a touch of class to win the National nowadays, and for trend fans there are two pretty robust measures we can use to sort the wheat from the chaff.
TREND 1 – WINNING FORM IN A CLASS 1 OR CLASS 2 CHASE
Jump races in the UK are divided into seven “classes”. At the top of the scale are Class 1 chases (over fences), which are sub divided into three ‘grades’. Below this level all UK jump races are categorised into classes from 2-7.
The Grand National is a Class 1 Grade 3 race, so while it doesn’t necessarily attract the very best chasers in the land the prize money and gravitas of the Grand National always attracts a very good quality field.
For evidence of this, consider that the last twenty winners of the Grand National have all previously triumphed in a class 1 or class 2 chase (over fences) so the following three horses will need to show a major step up in class to win.
Rule The World
TREND 2 – CAREER WIN IN A FIELD OF ELEVEN OR MORE
The Grand National presents a unique challenge for horses in several ways. Besides the distance and the intimidating spruce fences, the 40 runner field is much bigger than any other in the racing calendar.
And one trend that’s often overlooked relates to a horses aptitude for running in big fields.
Every Grand National winner since 2002 has posted a career win in a field of at least eleven runners. In fact we could increase that mark to fourteen if we exclude 2012 winner Neptune Collonges, who ironically finished second in a fourteen runner chase in his final prep race before triumphing at Aintree.
The following chart demonstrates the relative success of all horses running the National since 2009 banded by their biggest field win prior to that date.
The chart proves the point that we should certainly be skeptical of backing horses who do not have proven success in big fields. Here is a list of horses who have failed to post a career win in a field of eleven or more.
In fact we can take the afore mentioned water mark of eleven and take the principle a step further by show a preference for horses who have won in a big field of seventeen or more runners, who are statistically are nearly twice as likely to finish in the frame as horses whose biggest win is in the 11-16 runner bracket.
*Horses currently 41-48 in the handicap not guaranteed a run