The intelligent punter’s Grand National guide
Increase your chances of picking a winner at Aintree with The First Post’s guide to all the runners
Even though the first winner of the Grand National, back in 1839, was called 'Lottery', the world's most famous steeplechase is not quite the totally random event many believe it to be. Last year's winner, Mon Mome, may have been a 100-1 shot, but he had solid form and should really have started at around a quarter of those odds. Finding the National winner is never easy, but by focusing on some key race trends we can prune the field of 40 down to a more manageable shortlist.
First, concentrate on horses aged between eight and 12. No seven-year-old has won the race since the year Hitler invaded France, no 13-year-old since 1923. Then look for a horse carrying 11st 1lb or lower - no horse has carried more to victory since Corbiere in 1983.
Even though the fearsome National fences have been modified in recent years, the race, run over the extreme distance of 4m 4f, is still a severe test of stamina, and special attention should be paid to horses who have won, or run well in other top staying chases, such as the Scottish, Welsh and Irish Nationals.
Finally, when it comes to Aintree, there's no form like course form. Five of the last seven Grand National winners had safely completed a race over the course on a previous occasion, including last year's winner, Mon Mome.
So, here's The First Post's intelligent punter's guide to the runners in the Grand National, more prosaically known as the 4.15 at Aintree, in weight order:
**** A LIKELY WINNER
*** EACH-WAY POSSIBILITIES
** ONLY OUTSIDE CHANCE
* NO HOPER
MADISON DE BERLAIS ** Classy performer but has it all to do off top weight.
MON MOME *** Last year's winner looks sure to run well again, but carrying 7lb more this time may scupper his chances of a repeat.
BLACK APALACHI *** In the lead when unseating his rider at second Becher's last year; good each-way chance if putting in a clear round.
JOE LIVELY * Veteran who is not so lively these days and is better suited to Cheltenham.
VIC VENTURI **** Irish raider who has never fallen and who won over the Aintree fences in November (pictured above). Solid chance of at least making the frame.
COMPLY OR DIE *** Winner in 2008, and runner-up last year, the Aintree specialist has a good chance of another first-four finish.
DON'T PUSH IT ** The mount of champion jockey Tony McCoy is a smart performer on his day but is not the safest jumper in the world and has his fair share of weight.
MADE IN TAIPAN * Two-mile specialist who is unlikely to been seen on the second circuit.
NICHE MARKET *** Tough stayer who probably has too much weight to win, but who is nevertheless respected.
TRICKY TRICKSTER ** At seven, not the right age for the race and ran poorly last time.
CLOUDY LANE ** Third attempt at the National but hard to see him making it third time lucky.
DREAM ALLIANCE *** Unpredictable sort who either pulls up or runs very well. If he takes to the fences the Welsh National winner could run a big race.
NOZIC ** Has the benefit of last year's winning jockey Liam Treadwell in the saddle, but has been disappointing over the past year.
PABLO DU CHARMIL * Has never won at distance above 2m 2f and is up against it.
BACKSTAGE **** Was staying on at the finish in a race over a shorter trip at Aintree last year, and could be a winner.
MY WILL ** Third last year but will need to improve his jumping if he is to go two better.
BALLYHOLLAND *** Irish runner who will appreciate the drying ground. It would be no surprise to see him running a big race.
BEAT THE BOYS * Pulled up in his last two starts and hard to see him beating the opposition.
PREISTS LEAP * Mudlark who finished 14th last year but it takes a leap of the imagination to see him winning on ground which won't be to his liking.
CAN'T BUY TIME * Fell in last year's race and there are doubts over his stamina. Don't buy this one.
SNOWY MORNING *** Third in 2008 and ninth last year - and although less weight to carry this time, his chance of victory may have melted away.
BIG FELLA THANKS *** Likely favourite, but last year's sixth position represents poor value at current odds.
CHARACTER BUILDING *** Out-and-out stayer who could make Nina Carberry the first winning female jockey in the history of the race.
STATE OF PLAY **** Fourth last year, he has been prepared all season for this and carries less weight than 12 months ago. A big player.
ELLERSIE GEORGE * Well beaten on two previous runs over the National fences and hard to fancy.
BALLYFITZ ** Fifth in the Welsh National in December, but his tendency to make jumping mistakes is a big concern.
CONNA CASTLE * Two-mile specialist who is unlikely to stay the trip.
ERIC'S CHARM ** Veteran who is in the form of his life, but better suited to running on right-handed tracks.
KING JOHN'S CASTLE **** Second two years ago, but missed last season's race through injury. Irish raider who is the forgotten horse of the race and could run very well at long odds.
OLLIE MAGERN * Old-timer who fell at the second fence last year and is a most unlikely winner.
ARBOR SUPREME *** His jumping is far from supreme, but stamina gives him a good chance of a clear round.
MALJIMAR ** Talented performer who has the ability to win, but there are doubts over his jumping as he has fallen three times in 16 starts.
IRISH RAPTOR ** Has good form over shorter trips at Aintree but there are stamina doubts for Saturday's marathon.
CERIUM *** Fifth last year at odds of 100-1 and only got into this year's race as a last-minute reserve. One of the more interesting outsiders.
PIRAYA * Has never won over a distance further than 2m 5f and is unlikely to figure.
THE PACKAGE ** Looks a great prospect for the future but is only seven years old and stable jockey Timmy Murphy prefers Comply or Die.
HELLO BUD *** Last year's Scottish National winner should give supporters a good run for their money.
PALYPSO DE CREEK ** Ran well at the track in November, but, at seven, looks too young to win the National.
FLINTOFF *** Unpredictable performer who could either run like a drain or, like his cricketing namesake, bowl his rivals out.
ROYAL ROSA *** Long-shot but has finished third and second in two previous visits to Aintree and trainer has done well with his outsiders in the race before. ·
Comments are now closed on this article