Happy Grand National Eve!
It’s been a long week… I really picked a bad one for moving home!
As eluded to in my previous blog, 12 horses make the cut based on the trends this year.
Now, if you’re one of my friends who just wants the tips without reading all the rest, get scrolling. If not, here’s a quick recap before the big reveal of my 2019 shortlist. These horses meet ALL of the following criteria that fit the profile of a typical Grand National winner.
STAMINA: Has paid an each-way return over a minimum distance of 3.5 Miles OR has a top 5 finish in a key trial.
WEIGHT: Carries no more than 11 stone 0 lbs (12 lbs more than the bottom weight horse).
FORM: Must have paid at least one each-way return since August 1st.
OTHER TRENDS: Conforms with at least 5/7 of the following long standing trends which, while not directly related to performance, do offer us some useful pointers:
- Winner over 3 miles or more
- Age 8-12
- 10+ career starts over fences
- Has won a jumps race in a field of 11 or more
- Has won a Class 1 or Class 2 jumps race
- 3-6 Season Runs
- Run in the last 56 days
So without further ado here’s the shortlist, along with best prices available on Oddschecker as of 7.30pm Friday evening.
If you haven’t read my blogs leading up to this one, you’ll probably notice we’re missing the red hot favourite and last years National winner Tiger Roll, currently available at the frankly ridiculous short price of 9/2. There’s no doubting his winning pedigree, and he definitely has a chance to repeat his 2018 victory and become the first horse to win back to back Nationals since the legendary Red Rum.
But as I’ve mentioned in my WEIGHT blog he has, like every returning winner, been raised considerably in the weights, running off a mark 9lb higher than last year. While I expect he will be a contender, with 11-5 to lug around this year the past trends suggest he’s now too high in the weights to win.
So back to the shortlist, which contains the next two in the betting market – Rathvinden and Vintage Clouds – along with an interesting choice of dark horses.
There’s little I can say to put you off backing most of the horses on this list (and a few others!), and of course you may want to choose your own way of doing it.
However, I’ll return to my trends to find my own selections.
Firstly, if you read my post on STAMINA, you will recall that four of the last six winners, and 60% of horses finishing in the money since 2013 had hit both of the above stamina trends.
Apply this to the twelve on the above list and you’re left with just six horses.
That’s a really interesting list of proven stayers who are all, as a bonus, relatively low in the handicap as well.
Secondly, returning to my blog on FORM it’s notable that thirteen of the last sixteen Grand National winners had paid at least two each-way returns during the jump racing season. Only three of our shortlist hit this particular mark.
Finally, let’s look at course form around AINTREE. Nine of the last seventeen winners have posted a win or each-way return at Aintree. And remember course form over the spruce fences of Aintree also provide a useful pointer.
Again, only five of our final shortlist have managed this mark…
If we overlay these trends, only VINTAGE CLOUDS hits every mark, so he has to be a trends horse to back this year. This is a horse that was very much on my radar for the Grand National twelve months ago, but he just missed out on making the final field. With each-way returns from a Welsh and Scottish National to his name he’s definitely worthy of his place towards the front of the betting.
Three horses manage to hit 2/3 marks, although I’m going to leave Vieux Lion Rouge off my final shortlist because he’s had three cracks at the National and, while he’s completed every time, he’s has always tended to fade over this distance. However, I’ll be backing the other two… December’s Becher Chase winner WALK IN THE MILL and Welsh National runner-up RAMSES DE TEILLEE.
Rounding off my selections for 2019 I’ll return to the most important quality we’re looking for, staying power, and go with two horses on my provisional shortlist who hit both stamina marks and happen to be last years’ Irish and Scottish National winners respectively, GENERAL PRINCIPLE and JOE FARRELL.
So there you have it!
This year I’ve applied the trends as best I could and, while the prospect of Tiger Roll romping home will give me another sleepless night tonight, I’m confident that I’ve at least picked five out and out stayers who are well handicapped and come into Aintree with a fighting chance of success. Hopefully the trends will prevail and one or two finish in the money!
As always, many bookies are offering six places each-way this year, but choosing one should be offset by the likelihood the price you’ll get will be rubbish based on current evidence. Whatever you do, remember to get your bets on early whoever you pick.
As I said in my introduction and every year picking a Grand National winner isn’t easy. And although I personally stand by the trends I analyse each year it’s also fair to say this isn’t an exact science!
But I hope at the very least my ramblings enhance your enjoyment and insight into Saturday’s big race. Thank you for reading, especially those of you who follow my Facebook page and engage with my posts. Grand National week is always one of my sporting highlights of the year, and I’d like to wish you the best of luck whoever you’re on.
Let’s hope all the horses come back safely too and remember I’ll be back after Saturday’s race to reflect on how the trends performed this year.
Best of luck!