With 39 competitors to beat, 4 miles 2 ½ furlongs to run and 30 fences to jump it’s no under-statement to say that your chosen horse needs to be on top form to win the Grand National.
Form can be a fleeting quality when it comes to horses, but I can apply some very reliable statistics to sharpen a trends-based shortlist.
Since 1994, a surprising 9/24 Grand National winners hadn’t posted a win during the jump racing season (starting August 1st) prior to their triumph at Aintree. So winning form isn’t a requirement for Grand National success, but place form certainly is. Since 1995, only one Grand National winner (Auroras Encore in 2013) failed to post at least one each-way return in the same jump racing season prior to Aintree, and 11/15 winners since 2002 have placed twice or more.
I’ve analysed the season form of all Grand National runners from 2013-2017 in a couple of ways to establish what trends are the most predictive.
Firstly, I’ve tested the long-standing trend that place form is a key factor in National success.
Season each-way returns from 2013-2017 Grand National runners
|Each-way returns paid since August 1st||Runners||Finishers||Placed 1-5||Winners|
|0||53||18 (34%)||4 (8%)||1 (2%)|
|1||67||30 (45%)||9 (13%)||1 (1%)|
|2 or more||78||41 (53%)||12 (15%)||3 (4%)|
2013 winner Auroras Encore certainly threw a spanner in this trend, but the table demonstrates that it’s far more profitable over time to side with horses that have proven season form. The last 4 winners, and 21/25 horses paying an each-way return since 2013 had at least placed once during the jump racing season. That’s 80% of winners and 84% of each-way returns from a sample of 73% of runners.
It’s also notable that the four horses who defied their season form to earn a return in the National had previously shown a liking for Aintree – 3 of them having shown form over the spruce fences in the Becher Chase or the Grand National itself.
- 2013 Auroras Encore (1st) – Won a 21 runner hurdle at the 2008 Grand National festival.
- 2013 Oscar Time (4th) – 2nd in the 2011 Grand National
- 2015 Alvarado (4th) – 4th in the 2014 Grand National
- 2016 Vics Canvas (3rd) – 5th in the 2015 Becher Chase at Aintree
For more details on this check out my AINTREE post which I’ll be publishing soon.
Next I’ve extended the analysis and looked into winning form. As 15/24 winners since 1994 had posted a win, it’s interesting to see how this correlates with runners over the past five editions of the race.
Season wins from 2013-2017 Grand National runners
|Season wins||Runners||Finishers||Placed 1-5||Winners|
|0||108||45 (42%)||14 (13%)||2 (2%)|
|1||67||32 (48%)||6 (9%)||1 (1%)|
|2 or more||23||12 (52%)||5 (22%)||2 (9%)|
Interestingly, there’s little to be inferred runners with 0-1 wins, perversely the non-winners are slightly more successful!
However, it would be remiss not to pay special attention to the 23 horses running the National having posted 2 or more wins during the season. From this small sample, we can in fact find 2 of the last 3 winners – Many Clouds and One For Arthur – along with 2 runners-up from the last 4 years – Balthazar King and The Last Samuri.
2018 Field Analysis
Let’s be fair, your horse needs to have a good day to win the Grand National. The stats demonstrate a pretty strong correlation between form and success, and those that haven’t demonstrated any season form are worth opposing. Here’s a list of horses who have not paid an each-way return since the start of the jump racing season on August 1st 2017. I’ve highlighted horses who have demonstrated some form at Aintree during their career if you wish to give them a reprieve on your own shortlist.
- Minella Rocco
- Valseur Lido
- Tenor Nivernais
- Carlingford Lough
- Vieux Lion Rouge
- Pleasant Company
- Saint Are
- Childrens List
- Lord Windermere
- Road To Riches
- Thunder And Roses*
On the flip side, here’s a list of horses who have posted 2 or more each-way returns this season, with those horses who have won twice or more in caps:
- Anibale Fly
- The Last Samuri
- TOTAL RECALL
- Alpha Des Obeaux
- GOLD PRESENT
- Perfect Candidate
- Shantou Flyer
- Tiger Roll
- Regal Encore
- Warriors Tale
- Gas Line Boy
- The Dutchman
- Raz De Maree
- I Just Know
- Houblon Des Obeaux
- CAPTAIN REDBEARD
- Final Nudge
- Walk In The Mill*
- Vintage Clouds*
*Reserve – unlikely to now run (correct April 12th)