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 point us in the right direction.
You may be surprised to learn that nine of the last twenty-five Grand National winners hadn’t posted a win during the jump racing season (starting August 1st) prior to landing the big one at Aintree.
So winning form isn’t a prerequisite for Grand National success, but PLACE form certainly is.
In case you’re unsure what this means btw, place form means that a horse has finished in the first 2, 3 or 4 home in any given race depending on how many horses are racing, and paying punters an each-way return on their bets.
Since 1995, only one Grand National winner (Auroras Encore in 2013) failed to post at least one previous each-way return in the same jump racing, and thirteen winners from 2003-2018 had placed on at least two occasions.
I’ve analysed the season form of all Grand National runners from 2013-2018 in a couple of ways to establish which trends to use.
Firstly, I’ve tested the long-standing trend that place form is a key factor in National success.
Season each-way returns from 2013-2018 Grand National runners
|Each-way returns paid since August 1st||Runners||Finishers||Placed 1-5||Winners|
|0||67||23 (34%)||5 (8%)||1 (2%)|
|1||73||32 (45%)||10 (13%)||1 (1%)|
|2 or more||96||46 (53%)||15 (15%)||4 (4%)|
2013 winner Auroras Encore certainly threw a spanner in this trend, but the table demonstrates it’s far more profitable over time to side with horses that have proven season form.
The last five winners, and twenty-five 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.
Perhaps an equally revealing point is that the five horses who defied their season form to earn a return in the National had at least shown a liking for Aintree in a previous run. In fact four of them had experience of the famous spruce fences in either 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
- 2018 Pleasant Company (2nd) – 9th in the 2017 Grand National
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. and applied the same analysis based on all runners since 2013.
Season wins from 2013-2018 Grand National runners
|Season wins||Runners||Finishers||Placed 1-5||Winners|
|0||129||51 (40%)||15 (10%)||2 (2%)|
|1||82||38 (46%)||10 (12%)||2 (2%)|
|2 or more||25||12 (48%)||5 (20%)||2 (8%)|
Interestingly, there’s little to be inferred between runners with one or no season wins, but it would be remiss not to pay some attention to the twenty-five horses running the Grand National since 2013 having posted two or more wins during the season.
From this small sample, we can find two of the last four winners (Many Clouds 2015, One For Arthur 2017), along with two runners-up from the last five years (Balthazar King 2014, The Last Samuri 2016).
2019 Field Analysis
Let’s be fair, your horse needs to be in top form on the day to win the Grand National. With a few exceptions, the weight of numbers demonstrate a pretty strong correlation between form and success, and horses not in form or with no proven aptitude for the Aintree fences 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 2018. I’ve highlighted horses who have showed some form over the spruce fences of Aintree during their career if you wish to give them a reprieve on your own shortlist.
- Don Poli
- Minella Rocco
- Pleasant Company – 2nd 2018 Grand National
- One For Arthur – Won 2017 Grand National
- A Toi Phil
- Noble Endeavor– 9th 2018 Becher Chase
- Monbeg Notorious
- Step Back
- Valseur Lido – 8th 2018 Grand National
- Bless The Wings – 3rd 2018 Grand National
- Just A Par – Finished 2 Grand Nationals no higher than 14th
On the flip side, here’s a list of horses who have posted 2 or more each-way returns this season, hitting a mark achieved by thirteen of the last sixteen Grand National winners. Horses with two or more wins to their name this season are in caps:
- TIGER ROLL
- Go Conquer
- LAKE VIEW LAD
- MAGIC OF LIGHT
- JURY DUTY
- Sandymount Duke
- RAMSES DE TEILLEE
- Mall Dini
- Blow By Blow
- Vintage Clouds
- Walk In The Mill
- THE YOUNG MASTER