It’s almost time for the most famous horse race on the planet, Aintree’s showpiece steeplechase, the Grand National. On April 6th 2013 at 16:15 UK time, the 166th renewal of the Grand National will get underway, but who will we be backing? Picking the winner of this notoriously testing race, featuring thirty of the world’s toughest fences over almost four and a half miles of track, is incredibly difficult, so make sure you read our 2013 Grand National guide, featuring trends analysis and three tips ranging from 18/1 to 50/1 with Paddy Power, to give yourself the best chance of picking a winner…
We’ve taken a look at past renewals of the famous horse race to build up the profile of a potential Grand National winner. Here’s what we’ve found.
- 16 of the last 17 Grand National winners were aged 8 to 11
This is one of the most important Grand National trends. The last horse aged seven or younger to win the race came way back in 1940, while just thirteen 12 year old horses have won the race in its entire history, which dates all the way back to 1839. If that doesn’t persuade you, then consider this: every single one of the placed horses in the past 8 renewals of the Grand National has been in the 8 to 11 year old group.
- 19 of the last 20 winners had run in the 50 days leading up to the Grand National
- 13 of the last 16 winners had swerved the Cheltenham Festival
- None of the last 12 Grand National winners had won more than 1 race that season
The first of these trends illustrate that we should focusing on those horses who are sharp enough to win the race rather than returning from a long break, but equally we would prefer a horse that has been trained to peak for the Grand National, rather than one of the big Cheltenham Festival races a month before.
The last trend reminds us that a Grand National winner is usually well handicapped. Any horse winning too many races earlier in the season will probably be within the grip of the handicapper and therefore too heavily weighted to win what is a gruelling race.
- All of the last 24 winners of the Grand National had had won over 3m or further
- 17 of the last 20 winners had won over 3m 1f or further
- 11 of the last 12 Grand National winners had won a chase worth £29,000 or more
It’s a given that any horse capable of winning a race over four and a half miles must be a strong stayer. All of the past 24 Grand National winners had registered over at least three miles before winning at Aintree, and the vast majority had proven that they stay further than three miles.
The Grand National is increasingly being won by classy horses and as the last trend suggests, we should be looking for a horse with some proven class. It’s not enough to just win a few lowly handicaps, we want a selection that has previously won something worth winning.
- All of the last 19 horses to win the Grand National had lined up in 10 or more chases
- 18 of the last 20 Grand National winners had won a race with 13 or more runners
We all know how tough a race this is, with a forty strong field hustling and bustling their way over thirty obstacles spread around four and a half miles of the famous Aintree Grand National course. The trends suggest that we should be picking something with proven ability in bigger fields and with plenty of chasing experience.
- All of the last 15 Grand National winning horses had won at least 3 chases in their careers
- 15 of the last 16 winners had fallen no more than twice in their careers
- Just 1 of the last 16 winners had failed to complete five or more career races
As with the last set of trends, these suggest that we need to choose a horse that is going to handle the unique set of tests thrown up by the Grand National. The fences may be easier than they used to be, but they are still the toughest in the world, so we need a reliable jumper. The extreme distance requires a true stayer that won’t tire and need to be pulled up. A Grand National winner must have the right temperament; a horse constantly causing problems for a jockey is not going to win the race.
Last year’s winner Neptune Collonges was the first horse in 16 renewals to win the race having registered two or more falls or unseats in their career. That same horse was also the first in 16 renewals to win having registered five or more career non-completions (not just falls and unseats, but refusing to race, pulling up, running out, etc). Despite this one exceptional horse, the trends still strongly suggest that we need a reliable horse with a degree of proven ability in the form book.
I generally like to pick three horses for the Grand National as picking the winner of such a tough race with such a big field requires a large slice of luck. And as luck would have it, applying all of the above trends to the 2013 Grand National field leaves us with just three horses that fit the profile: Teaforthree, What A Friend and Rare Bob.
The bay gelding won the Natonal Hunt Chase at Cheltenham last year, a marathon four mile contest worth £44,000, proving both his staying ability and class in one fell swoop. Draw a line through his run in the Grand National trial – Curtis herself said that he wasn’t right that day, as he wasn’t eating and didn’t enjoy the surroundings. She’ll have him spot on for the 2013 Grand National.
The second of our Grand National tips for 2013 is currently a best price of 40/1 (41.00) with the Tote and Ladbrokes, but is as short as 25/1 in places. 11 year old Rare Bob pleased his trainer Dessie Hughes with a reasonable effort in the Bobbyjo Chase, a reliable Grand National trial, before improving to finish third at Naas last time out. He looks as though he will be peaking at the right time this season, without achieving enough to already be on the radar of the bookmakers.
His record at Aintree is a mixed bag, which probably helps to explain the current variations in his price. His only career unseat (he’s never truly fallen) came at Aintree in April 2011, while in last year’s Grand National he was unlucky to be brought down by another faller. But his other two runs at the course resulted in 3rd and 5th place finishes in a 2010 Listed Race and the 2011 Becher Chase respectively, so there’s little to suggest he can’t handle the tricky fences.
Our third and final tip for the 2013 Grand National is 50/1 (51.00) chance (Bet365 and Paddy Power) What A Friend, who is famously co-owned by Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson. Deemed good enough to run in the 2011 and 2012 Gold Cups (4th and fell), connections have changed tack this year and targeted the Grand National, which may prove to be key with this ten year old bay.
Classy enough to win a Lexus Chase and Aintree’s own Totesport Bowl in previous seasons, his only previous attempt at the Grand National was as an eight year old, just three weeks after running the race of his life to finish fourth in Long Run’s Gold Cup. It’s no surprise that he eventually pulled up. He should give a better account of himself this time round, having had just once race since April 2012.
The first two of these three bookmakers are the only firms currently offering “Non-Runner, Money Back” – placing a bet with anyone else will result in you losing your money if it doesn’t run on the day, as with normal antepost rules. The reason I include Paddy Power is because they – along with Bet365 – are paying out on the first five places, as opposed to the usual four currently offered by every other bookmaker.
The 2013 Grand National
Saturday April 6th, 16:15
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