Happy Grand National Day! At the time of writing (Friday night) it’s been a long day. After six hours sleep, a long day at work, and two hours playing hide and seek with my 8 year-old daughter I’ve finally found the time to finish off this blog and reveal my shortlist.
It was also an eventful day for the National with three runners – Minella Rocco, Vicente and Beeves withdrawn given the softer ground and replaced by Thunder and Roses, Delusionofgrandeur and Walk In The Mill.
Vicente would have certainly been among my likely selections had the weather been better this week, but it’s no surprise he’s been withdrawn and saved for a tilt at a 3rd straight Scottish National next week.
Nonetheless, twelve horses make the cut this year.
Now I know a number of my friends (and you know who you are!) tend to skip the other blogs and head straight to this one where I reveal who I’m betting on. Well you’ll find all my tips here, I’m just going to make you scroll a bit first.
This years shortlist 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 2 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 5-6 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
- Class 1 or Class 2 winner
- 3-6 Season Runs
- Run in the last 63 days
So without further ado here’s the shortlist!
- Tiger Roll
- Regal Encore (declared a non-runner on Saturday morning)
- Chase The Spud
- Gas Line Boy
- I Just Know
- Baie Des Iles
- Houblon Des Obeaux
- Bless The Wings
- Final Nudge
- Double Ross
At first glance it might not seem an obvious list of contenders. In fact I’m opposing the top four in the betting market, mainly because they’re all also shouldering a big weight. I personally believe the softer ground conditions will play into the hands of the lighter weighted horses but you never know of course. Time will tell if I’m right!
There’s little I can say to put you off backing most horses on this list (and a few others!), and you may want to to choose your own way of doing it.
If you read my post on STAMINA, you will recall that an amazing 34% of horses hitting both of the above stamina trends have finished in the first five home, including 3 winners. That also included four of the first six home in the 2017 National.
Overlay the shortlist with this pointer and only five horses are left…
That’s an interesting list, not least because filled with low weighted stayers with a wide range of experience.
But for this year, I’ll draw on a few pointers found in my other posts, namely:
- 2013-2017, 14/41 horses that have career form over 3.5 miles or further AND a top 5 finish in a key trial have paid an each-way return.
- 11/15 winners since 2003 have placed twice or more since 1st August.
- 4/5 winners since 2013 carried no more than 5 lbs more than bottom weight (10-09 for 2018)
- 9/16 winners since 2002 have won or placed in a race at Aintree.
No horse hits every one of these ‘bonus’ career marks, but three do manage to hit 3/4…
HOUBLON DES OBEAUX is a veteran plodder who has placed in a Welsh National and a Hennessey Gold Cup. He stayed on to finish 10th last year from the back of the field and may pass a few more on the softer ground expected for the race. GAS LINE BOY was also on my short list last year and duly ran a cracker to come home 5th at a big price. He has subsequently won the Sefton Chase over the National fences at Aintree in December so undoubtedly knows how to get around this course. I must admit the next horse surprised even me, but 50/1 shot FINAL NUDGE, who finished 3rd in January’s Welsh National, has had very little attention in the build up, ticks the all-important stamina box, is running off a low weight and will like the softer ground… You could get a worse each-way shot at a big price.
My other two selections don’t tick the key trials box, but have displayed their all important staying power and have been in excellent form over the past few months.
TIGER ROLL follows a very similar path to the National as recent runners-up Cause Of Causes and Balthazar King, having won the Cross Country Chase at last months’ Cheltenham Festival. While I JUST KNOW won the 3 mile 6 furlong North Yorkshire National by 15 lengths in January.
So there you have it. 5 out and out stayers will be getting my money this year. Hopefully a few finish in the money.
Plenty of 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. A lot of value has gone from the market already this year sadly but hopefully you’ll find some profitable picks at decent prices in the morning. Remember to get your bet on early while there may be some value left!
As I said in my introduction and every year, picking a Grand National winner isn’t easy nor is it an exact science! But I hope my ramblings enhance your enjoyment of the big race. Thanks for reading, and best of luck whoever you’re on. I’ll pop back on here tonight to reflect on how the trends performed against the winner.