2017 Trends

The Result

Well what a fantastic race the 2017 Grand National was and best of all was the news that all forty horses returned safe and sound.

Congratulations to all of you who backed the winner – One For Arthur. A quite brilliant run from the 8 year-old and jockey Derek Fox who ran a great tactical race from near the back of the field on the first circuit, timing his charge to perfection.

Although our winner didn’t make my short list let’s recap on how he performed against all of the key trends.

Stamina

  • Minimum long career place 3m 4f – Won 3 miles 5 furlong Betfred Handicap Chase (Grade 3) at Warwick in January
  • Top six finish in a key trial – 5th 2016 Becher Chase over the same Aintree fences

Form

  • Placed this season – Yes, 2 placed outings this season (both wins)
  • Best Aintree result – 5th out of 22 runners  (2016 Becher Chase)

Preparation

  • 2-6 runs this season – 3 runs
  • Run in the last 56 days – 84 days (last run January 14)

Experience

  • Not a 7 year-old – Aged 8
  • At least 9 career starts over fences – 10 starts (+5 point-to-point runs)

Other notable marks

  • Grade 3 winner
  • Carried 10 stone 11 lbs (5 lbs above bottom weight)
  • Had previously won a 20 runner chase
  • 1st Grand National run

As you can see, the only ‘red line’ trend he failed to hit was from not having run in the last 56 days – a very long standing trend but one which is undoubtedly less important compared to others.

So how did the trends stack up overall? Let’s see how the 12 horses I short listed got on…

  • The Last Samuri – 16th
  • Saphir Du Rheu – unseated rider
  • Blaklion – 4th
  • Cause Of Causes – 2nd
  • Vieux Lion Rouge – 6th
  • Ucello Conti – fell
  • Houblon Des Obeaux – 10th
  • Lord Windermere – 7th
  • Saint Are – 3rd
  • Just A Par – 14th
  • Raz De Maree – unseated rider
  • Gas Line Boy – 5th

So while my methodology didn’t capture the winner this year, it did find the next six horses home finishing 2-3-4-5-6-7, which suggests I’m pretty close to the mark!

The Grand National has seen two significant changes over the past decade. First with the compression of the handicap in 2009, and again with the much needed safety modifications introduced in 2013. Formulating an analysis of trends has felt like hitting a moving target for some time, made all the more frustrating as we only get one chance a year to add more data into the mix.

But with five renewals of this great race now under our belts with the softer fences and reduced length I feel that a new emergent set of trends are now clearly in view.

Firstly, stamina over extreme distances is absolutely paramount. Our 2017 winner had duly placed over a distance of 3.5 miles and finished among the first five home in a key trial.

Meanwhile, the 17 horses I rejected on these stamina trends could collectively manage no better than 8th today.

The following table highlights results from the last five editions of the National since 2013, with all runners categorised by their longest career each-way return.

2013-2017 Grand National runners by longest career place

Long Career Place Runners Finishers Placed (1-5) Win
Under 3m 2f 73 25 (34%) 2 (3%) 0 (0%)
Between 3m 2f-3m 4f 53 23 (43%) 5 (9%) 1 (2%)
3m 4f or further 72 41 (57%) 18 (25%) 4 (6%)

In summation, 18/72 horses with a long career place mark of 3.5 miles or further have paid an each-way return – 72% of each-way returns from a sample of just 36% of runners.

And the same sample of horses included 4/5 winners – pretty emphatic statistics!

Meanwhile it’s becoming clear that weight is once again becoming a major factor in the race – a trend obscured by Many Clouds increasingly staggering looking performance from two years ago.

Since 2013, 4/5 winners have now carried no more than 5 lbs more than the bottom weighted horse in the handicap, and of the 12 horses carrying 11 stone or more in the 2017 edition only Blaklion managed to finish among the first fifteen home!

After years of shifting trends, it seems that there are now some clear indicators to focus on – something which gives me hope that this years’ relative success is something that can be built on.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my website and that it enhances your enjoyment of the race. Remember to follow my Facebook page and look out for a fresh analysis as we search for an elusive winner again in 2018!