Is the Grand National Definitly Red’s?
Whether you are a seasoned punter or a complete novice, the lure of the Grand National will surely not have passed you by.
This annual jolly from Aintree in Liverpool remains the UK’s most wagered-upon sporting event of the year, with millions of pounds spent – and some recouped – on every edition of the race.
Run over a beastly four-and-a-half mile circuit in typically soft going, there are fewer tests in horse racing more challenging than this. An entry list of more than 40 horses also makes life rather difficult for punters.
But with the last five winners priced at 33/1, 66/1, 25/1, 25/1 and 33/1, clearly there is huge potential for those with a keen nose for a winner to make some handsome profit!
The Making of a Grand National Champion
Given that the origins of the Grand National date back more than a century, we really do have plenty of trends and stats to work with to help in identifying the Grand National winner for 2017.
First up is a rather alarming statistic: only three bookmakers’ favourites have won the Grand National in the past 18 years. If you were contemplating backing the bookies’ jolly this year, DefinitlyRed, now might be the time to remove your finger from the Place Bet button.
Typically, it is the older horses who perform the best in Aintree’s flagship race. Only one of the last 14 winners was aged eight or younger at the time of their triumph. To add some meat to those bones, only a single nine-year-old has crossed the line first, with a trio of eleven-year-olds and a pair of ten-year-olds triumphing in the past seven renewals.
The handicap spreads of the most recent winners have been quite diverse, with as short as 10-03 (Auroras Encore in 2013) to 11-09 (Many Clouds in 2015) getting home first, so concerns of top weight are less important, historically, in the Grand National than anywhere else.
The seemingly random nature of the Grand National does not aid punters, but again there are more trends to consider. Just take Rule the World, who waltzed home in first place 12 months ago. Not all that well fancied at 33/1, the signs of success for this Gigginstown horse were clear in a previous effort: he finished second in the Irish Grand National in April 2015, and so a penchant for long distance staying – that renewal was run on heavy ground over 3m 5f – was born.
Similarly, Many Clouds, the 2015 victor, had shown his mettle by winning the Hennessy Gold Cup Chase just six months or so prior to his Grand National win, so perhaps the key underlying trend here is to back those who have enjoyed success in lengthy feature races in the past.
Heart of a Lion
Just shading favouritism in the market for the 2017 National is Definitly Red, and given the stats suggesting otherwise perhaps he is one to avoid at 11/1 with bet365 and BetFred.
The highlight on his CV is a win in the Grimthorpe Chase, and that was an eye-catching triumph last time out, but otherwise his record is lacking high profile success. More alarming, he fell two fences from home at the Cheltenham Festival’s National Hunt Chase in 2016; the second time in seven starts he has failed to finish a race.
Just nestling underneath Definitly Red in the listings is Vieux Lion Rouge, and this is a powerhouse that is very easy to like.
Available at around the 12/1 mark, the David Pipe trained gelding has won his last pair of starts, both of which are high profile outings: the Grand National Trial from Haydock Park in February, and the Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree in December. He stayed on well in both of those renewals, and as precursors to Grand National success go those pair of outings were as good as it gets.
Those seeking each way value might want to consider Highland Lodge (25/1 with bet365), who boasts some outstanding form at Aintree.
Second by a short head in that Becher Chase renewal of 2016 to Vieux Lion Rouge, the James Moffatt charge had actually won the same race just 12 months previously.
A high-profile win at Aintree on soft ground? That sets up Highland Lodge rather nicely for a tilt at immortality here.