Grand National: A guide to picking the Aintree winner from the field of 40 horses in the world’s most famous race | Racing News

It can be a touch daunting to sift through all 40 runners in the world’s most famous race – Aintree’s Grand National – but there are several hard-and-fast rules that can help whittle down the field to create a manageable shortlist.

To do this, we have crunched the data from the last 15 Grand Nationals to help identify some key trends shared by the majority of past winners so they can be applied to this year’s field.

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Colour

Okay, a bit of fun to start and one for those who like to pick based on the colourful silks.

Owner JP McManus won the race last year with Minella Times and his familiar green and gold colours will be carried once more by a number of runners, including the returning champion.

For any fans of the Minions out there, look no further than Colin Tizzard’s Lostintranslation, who wears yellow and blue in honour of co-owner Paul Taylor’s late son Charlie, a Minions mega fan.

Lostintranslation winning the Betfair Chase at Haydock in 2019
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Former Gold Cup third Lostintranslation wears yellow and blue colours based on the Minions

Supporters of West Ham, Aston Villa or Burnley might be keen to cheer on the claret and blue of Escaria Ten or Discorama.

As for the horse’s colour, Charlie Longsdon’s popular mare Snow Leopardess will bid to become just the fifth grey horse to win the race in its 183-year history.

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Trainer Charlie Longsdon admits he is feeling the nerves ahead of Snow Leopardess’ run in the Grand National, with the grey mare gathering increasing popularity following her return from giving birth to a filly

Name

Let’s face it, we’ve all known someone who’s picked the winner purely because they liked the name!

One For Arthur is the only winner during the last 15 renewals to feature a common forename, with this year’s options including: Run Wild Fred, Good Boy Bobby, Top Ville Ben and Freewheelin Dylan.

Five of the last 15 winners have featured a European phrase (Minella Times, Pineau De Re, Aurora Encore, Mon Mome and Ballabriggs – Balla is Italian for dance!), while three have included an outer-space theme (Many Clouds, Rule The World and Neptune Colognes).

Money is a strong theme through this year’s field with Two For Gold, Dingo Dollar and Poker Party all entered.

Poker Party and Rachael Blackmore after victory in the Kerry National
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Poker Party and Rachael Blackmore after victory in the Kerry National

Jockey and trainer

Of those to have famously partnered the winner since 2006 still holding a jockey’s licence, there is Derek Fox (won in 2017), Ryan Mania (2013), Daryl Jacob (2012), Robbie Power (2007), and of course the man who came home first twice on Tiger Roll, Davy Russell.

Meanwhile, Rachael Blackmore arrives in tip-top form from Cheltenham and will be looking to emulate Russell with back-to-back wins following her heroic victory on Minella Times 12 months ago.

Rachael Blackmore after winning the Grand National on Minella Times
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Blackmore after winning the Grand National on Minella Times

As for the trainer, there are plenty who have achieved the feat once and still hold a training licence, including the female trio of Lucinda Russell (won it in 2017), Sue Smith (2013) and Venetia Williams (2009).

Scotland-based Russell is represented this year by Mighty Thunder, while Polly Gundry looks after former Nicky Henderson ace Santini and Emma Lavelle trains De Rasher Counter.

Nigel Twiston-Davies (1998 and 2002) and Gordon Elliott (2007, 2018 and 2019) are multiple winners of the National.

Trainer Lucinda Russell hopes Mighty Thunder will develop into a Grand National hope this season
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Trainer Lucinda Russell with Grand National hopeful Mighty Thunder

Odds

The Grand National has long been seen as something of a lottery but recent history from the market shows the task is not impossible.

Indeed, 15 of the last 24 winners emerged from the first eight in the betting, which is a fair bias considering the 38-40 runners each year. Ten of those winners were also 11/1 or shorter.

Cheltenham Festival winner Delta Work (Gordon Elliott) has been well-backed after denying stablemate Tiger Roll a fairytale farewell in the Cross Country Chase.

Enjoy D’Allen, third in last year’s Irish Grand National, is another strongly fancied one for trainer Ciaran Murphy.

Jack Kennedy punches the air as Delta Work beats Tiger Roll in the Cross Country Chase
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Delta Work beat dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll at the Cheltenham Festival last month

Form

On the form front, it’s well worth checking a runner’s form-figures on the racecard, as 13 of the last 15 National winners made the top two during their last three outings – the same number that made the top six on their last outing.

Match practice that season also proved important, with 14 of the last 15 winners having between three and seven runs earlier in the campaign.

Ted Walsh’s Any Second Now, who finished third in last year’s Grand National, has had three outings this season, beating Escaria Ten in a hot-looking Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse last time out.

Six of the last 15 winners since 2006 have come to Aintree via Cheltenham, a path taken this year by the likes of Easysland, Brahma Bull, Mount Ida and Noble Yeats.

Any Second Now winning at Cheltenham at 2019
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Any Second Now has been well supported for this year’s Aintree showpiece

Age and weight

When it comes to choosing the right horse with the age to win this stamina-sapping event, then history tells us that a blend of youth and experience is best.

Horses between eight-years-old and 11 are favoured with that bracket accounting for each National winner since 2005, leaving six- and seven-year-old’s winless from 36 attempts.

Elliott’s seven-year-old Coko Beach, 12-year-old Anibale Fly (Tony Martin) and 13-year-old veteran Blaklion (Dan Skelton) will try and buck that trend.

With a marathon four-and-a-quarter miles to tackle, it’s easy to understand why every single pound in the saddle matters.

That said, the records show of the 69 runners to have lumped 11st 7lb or more since 1997, only Many Clouds succeeded in 2015 – carrying 11st 9lb – suggesting 11st 6lb or lighter is the section to concentrate on.

That gives 2021 champion Minella Times (11st 10lb) and Delta Work (11st 9lb) a tough ask.


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