The closer the Grand National gets the more bets get placed on the Aintree showpiece but are some punters flushing their money down the toilet? Historically, there are certain horses that can’t win the Grand National yet they still attract many bets and there are certain ways to narrow down the Grand National runners (full list here) in order to find the most likely winners of the race.
Many punters like to back a runner at a big price in hope of a big win for a small stake but you are much more likely to find the winner nearer the head of the Grand National odds. It makes sense that in such a unique 40 runner handicap there is always going to be an odd shock, after all Mon Mome in 2009 won at odds of 100/1 (despite being much shorter in the morning). However, usually the winner starts the race with odds of 20/1 or less because it takes the best horse to win this race. In the 21 Grand Nationals that have been run since 1990, no less than 17 winners started the race at 20/1 or below and 12 of those winners were 14/1 or shorter. If looking at horses that are 20/1 or below last year you could have narrowed down the field to 13 runners and if going for 14/1 or shorter only 7 horses (including the winner) would have remained.
One of the best backed horses on Grand National day is often the previous year’s winner if lining up for a repeat bid but despite having a good record of placing, they have a terrible record of winning which is bad news for last year’s winner Ballabriggs. The last horse to win back to back Grand Nationals was Aintree legend Red Rum who won in 1973 and 1974 (he also won the race on two other occasions) and he was the first horse to win consecutively in almost forty years. The previous year’s winner is nearly always near the head of the market but looks the first of the favourites worth taking on for win purposes as in recent attempts Don’t Push It came third last year at 9/1, Comply Or Die who won in 2008 came second in 2009 at 14/1 whilst Hedgehunter was just 5/1 for back to back victories in 2006 but he also came second. Strongly consider the previous year’s winner for place bets but not for win bets.
The main reason it seems the previous year’s winner can’t win is weight. Last year’s winner will always carry more weight than when successful and weight can stop any horse. This is another negative for the well fancied Ballabriggs who will shoulder 11-9 in the race this year if top weight Synchronised (another well fancied runner) takes his chance in the race. No horse has won the Grand National carrying more than 11-5 since Red Rum retained his Grand National crown almost forty years ago. Another relatively well fancied horse still entered in the race and set to carry more than 11-5 this year includes Calgary Bay. In the last seven years it is only Grand National specialists (horses who have previously won or placed in the Grand National) who have managed to even run into a place with more than 11-5 on their backs so oppose any horse carrying more than 11-5 to even place unless they have placed in the National before (and even then they should be looking at second at best).
There are other criteria which can be used to narrow down the potential winners of the Grand National. At least the last ten winners of the Grand National had previously won over 3 miles to prove their stamina, had won a race worth at least £17,000 to prove their class and had plenty of experience over fences with at least ten runs over the larger obstacles. Visit Grand-National-Guide.co.uk for the Grand National 2012 runners that fit this bill.