Expert’s view

2022 Grand National guide: runners, top tips, latest odds and how to pick a winner

The runners and riders have been confirmed for Saturday’s race at Aintree

When the Grand National gets under way at Aintree Racecourse on Saturday all eyes will once again be on Rachael Blackmore and Minella Times. At last year’s National, Blackmore made history on the gelding by becoming the first female jockey to win the world’s most famous, and toughest, jumps race. 

The “momentous victory” saw the Irish rider’s profile “soar to a different stratosphere in the aftermath”, said David Jennings in the Racing Post. Blackmore missed the early part of this season after breaking her leg, but at last month’s Cheltenham Festival she scored three wins, including the Gold Cup on the emphatic A Plus Tard. She arrives at Aintree “on the highest of highs”, said Charlie Huggins, also in the Racing Post

After winning as an 11-1 shot in 2021, the JP McManus-owned Minella Times will have a top weight in this year’s race, “running off a 15lb higher rating than the one he was successful off last year”. 

When confirming the “dream team” would be reunited, trainer Henry de Bromhead said: “Rachael will ride Minella Times and he’s back showing me all the right signs at home. He loved it last year, but he’s obviously gone up a good bit in the ratings so it’s not going to be easy for him.”

For the first time since 2019, horse racing fans will be able to attend the fixture, the BBC said. Because of Covid, the National was cancelled in 2020 and last year’s race was held without spectators. “Around 150,000 fans attend the festival over its three days, with 70,000 due to pack the stands” for the race on Saturday. 

With the Grand National, “anything can happen”, said Tom Lunn on talkSPORT. “The appeal of ‘any horse can win’ attracts a global audience with many taking part in sweepstakes or having a one-off bet on horses with gigantic odds, appealing names or their favourite jockey or trainer.”

In this guide to the 174th Grand National, we look at the latest betting odds, the key fences, past controversies and how to pick a winner.

1

Grand National start time and UK TV coverage

The three-day Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool takes place from 7-9 April. The highlight of the festival is Saturday’s Grand National steeplechase, which starts at 5.15pm (BST). Live coverage of the festival and the race will be shown on ITV

2

The confirmed runners and riders

The runners and riders entry list for the 2022 Grand National has been confirmed, with 40 horses named for the big race at Aintree on Saturday. 

 HorseJockeyTrainer 
1Minella TimesRachael BlackmoreHenry De Bromhead
2Delta WorkJack KennedyGordon Elliott
3School Boy HoursSean FlanaganNoel Meade
4Any Second NowMark WalshTed Walsh
5Run Wild FredDavy RussellGordon Elliott
6LostintranslationHarry CobdenColin Tizzard
7Brahma BullBrian HayesWillie Mullins
8Burrows SaintPaul TownendWillie Mullins
9Mount IdaDenis O’ReganGordon Elliott
10Longhouse PoetDarragh O’KeeffeMartin Brassill
11FiddlerontheroofBrendan PowellColin Tizzard
12Two For GoldDavid BassKim Bailey
13SantiniNick ScholfieldPolly Gundry
14SamcroSean BowenGordon Elliott
15Escaria TenAdrian HeskinGordon Elliott
16Good Boy BobbyDaryl JacobNigel Twiston-Davies
17Romain de SenamPhilip ArmsonDavid Pipe
18Coko BeachJonjo O'Neill JrGordon Elliott
19De Rasher CounterAdam WedgeEmma Lavelle
20KildisartJames BowenBen Pauling
21DiscoramaBrian CooperPaul Nolan
22Top Ville BenTommy DowsonPhilip Kirkby
23Enjoy D’allenConor OrrCiaran Murphy
24Anibale FlyTBCTony Martin
25Dingo DollarRyan ManiaSandy Thomson
26Freewheelin DylanRicky DoyleDermot A McLoughlin
27Class ContiSam Twiston-DaviesWillie Mullins
28Noble YeatsSam Waley-CohenEmmet Mullins
29Mighty ThunderDerek FoxLucinda Russell
30Cloth CapTom ScudamoreJonjo O'Neill
31Snow LeopardessAidan ColemanCharlie Longsdon
32Agusta GoldDanny MullinsWillie Mullins
33Commodore Charlie DeutschVenetia Williams
34Deise AbaTom O’BrienPhilip Hobbs
35BlaklionHarry SkeltonDan Skelton
36Poker PartyRobbie PowerHenry De Bromhead
37Death DutyJordan GainfordGordon Elliott
38Domaine De L’IsleHarry BannisterSean Curran
39Eclair SurfTom BellamyEmma Lavelle
40FortescueHugh NugentHenry Daly

3

Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool

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The course and key fences

Held over a distance of 4 miles 514 yards, the Grand National is the longest race of the year and one of the most daunting. A maximum of 40 horses will tackle 30 fences at Aintree. 

The Aintree fences are “not quite as perilous as they were once upon a time after a series of alterations”, said The Daily Telegraph. However, they are “still the most notorious obstacles in the business and enough to make the palms of any jockey sweat”.

“Becher’s Brook”, which is lower on the landing side than the take-off side, is named after jockey Captain Martin Becher, who fell there in 1939 and crawled into the brook to escape injury. The tallest fence is “The Chair”, which is now five foot two inches high. 

4

History and past controversies 

It’s thought the first Grand National took place at Aintree in 1839, when it was won by a horse named Lottery. Since then, the race has become an institution, with incidents such as the false start in 1993 and the bomb scare of 1997 making national headlines.

Part of the fascination of the race is the danger, but there have been serious concerns about the safety of runners and riders in recent years. In 2012, the closest-ever finish to the race was overshadowed by the death of two horses, prompting more efforts to make the course safer. Many still protest against the race and the risks it poses to the competitors. Others argue that making the course less challenging encourages jockeys to take more risks.

5

The Grand National is held at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool

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Top tips: how to pick a Grand National winner

When the Grand National was first run at Aintree in 1839 it was won by a horse called Lottery, which seems fitting for a race that sees 40 horses tackle a four-mile course featuring 30 obstacles.

Despite or perhaps because of the randomness, the National has become a betting institution. Seasoned punters are joined by the once-a-year brigade at their local betting shop. A quarter of UK adults have a flutter on the race so what should the intelligent punter consider when looking to pick a winner?

Age of the horse

History tells us that nine is the peak age for a Grand National winner. Although the race has been won by horses aged from five to 15, a quarter of all winners have been nine years old. Choosing a horse between the ages of eight and 11 therefore makes sense. 

“It’s no surprise that horses that aren’t too old or young do better in the race,” said The Daily Telegraph. “Stamina and jumping ability are essential for the Grand National. While younger horses tend to have more speed than stamina, older horses are often past their prime needed to pass the National’s many hurdles.”

Weight of the horse

The Grand National is a handicap steeplechase, with faster horses given extra weight to try and make the race more even. “The simple fact is that very few horses have managed to win carrying big weights,” said the Horse Racing Guide website. History shows that horses carrying more than 11st 6lb rarely prosper. 

But it’s not always the main consideration, said Sporting Life. “A concerted effort has been made to improve the quality of the runners contesting the Grand National and that has resulted in the weights being compressed. As a result, lightly weighted horses are no longer the dominant force of old and five winners have carried 11-0 or higher.”

Stamina and experience

This ties in with the question of age and weight, as only the toughest horses will make the grade. “The Grand National is a gruelling race, and we’ve always maintained that only horses experienced at running over three miles or more can be expected to be in with a shout,” said the Horse Racing Guide website. Sporting Life agrees: “Siding with a runner that has proven form over an extreme trip is key.” 

Form and odds

These factors should be key, but only one in six Grand Nationals are won by the favourite (although even the favourite usually starts with longer odds than 6-1). The epic nature of the race also tends to make form less important.

Name

Horses beginning with the letter R have the best record in the race, notes the Telegraph, which goes on to point out that the National has been won five times by horses called “Red”. But don’t be lured in by family connections, warns the paper. “Just a quarter of winners have had a human name.”

Trainers called Tom have more wins (11) than any other, with George (8), Fred (7) and James (7) following closely behind, according to research by GrandNational.org.uk. When it comes to ownership, 17 previous winning owners have been called John. That’s just shy of one in ten (9.8%), and includes last year’s winning horse, Minella Times – owned by John P McManus, which could be his golden ticket towards making it back-to-back victories.

Colour

If there’s no stand-out name to help you choose, then the jockey’s silks might help. “Pink seems to be a favourite with the ladies, but if you look at the stats, it’s not necessarily the wisest choice,” said Camilla Swift of The Spectator. “Green, yellow, or a combination of the two are the most successful colours.”

Should you bet on a long-shot? 

Outsiders are “rare winners”, said Andrew Cunneen on Paddy Power. “Only nine of the last 30 winners came from outside the top eight in the betting, so if you want a ‘big’ price winner, you may have to lower your expectations.”

Could Deise Aba be the winner in 2022? 

Historical research of each of the previous 173 Grand Nationals has revealed that the “typical winner” is a nine-year old horse with a handicap of 10st 7lbs, priced by bookies at 20/1 pre-race. The research by GrandNational.org.uk found that Deise Aba matches this description closest with an age of nine and handicap of 10st 7lbs. 

Top trends to look for

According to Betfair’s Nic Doggett there are “certain trends to consider” when picking a National winner. “Finding the winner of the Grand National provides a sense of satisfaction like no other race, and most people can remember the first time – or maybe even the only time – they solved the 40-runner conundrum that is the Aintree extravaganza.”

Punters should look at the following trends:

  • Age: look to horses between eight and 10 
  • Recent runners tend to fare well 
  • Chasing experience – this is a must 
  • An Aintree outing is a plus 
  • Try to find a winner at 3 miles or more 
  • Big weight is no barrier to success

6

Predictions: who will win the National? 

There is “a growing feeling” that Snow Leopardess can “end a 71-year wait for a mare to win the Grand National”, said Marcus Armytage in The Daily Telegraph. If Snow Leopardess does win, “she would not only become the first mare to do so for 71 years, the first grey mare and, incredibly, the first to have already had a foal”, but victory would cap an “extraordinary lifetime with horses” for her owner-breeder Marietta Fox-Pitt.

A “great each-way chance” can come from the “super consistent” Fiddlerontheroof, trained by Colin Tizzard, said Tom Lunn on talkSPORT. “This 8-year-old often places behind top-class horses and not by far either.”

After a lot of “number crunching”, who will win the National, asked Andrew Cunneen on Paddy Power. Based on the stats and trends there are six horses who “shouldn’t be too far away at the end of the 34-furlong showcase event”. The six picks are Snow Leopardess, Escaria Ten, Longhouse Poet, Burrows Saint, Cloth Cap, and Éclair Surf.

 

7

The Grand National is held at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool

Getty Images

Betting odds

Prices according to Oddschecker, as of 8 April 

  • Any Second Now: 10/1  
  • Delta Work: 10/1
  • Snow Leopardess: 10/1 
  • Minella Times: 11/1
  • Eclair Surf: 14/1 
  • Longhouse Poet: 16/1
  • Fiddlerontheroof: 16/1
  • Escaria Ten: 16/1 
  • Enjoy D’allen: 16/1 
  • Run Wild Fred: 18/1  
  • Burrows Saint: 25/1
  • School Boy Hours: 25/1 
  • Cloth Cap: 28/1
  • Fortescue: 28/1 
  • Good Boy Bobby: 30/1
  • Mount Ida: 40/1 
  • Two For Gold: 40/1 
  • Discorama: 40/1
  • Mighty Thunder: 40/1  
  • Death Duty: 40/1 
  • Commodore: 40/1 
  • De Rasher Counter: 50/1
  • Santini: 50/1 
  • Kildisart: 50/1 
  • Dingo Dollar: 50/1  
  • Noble Yeats: 50/1 
  • Freewheelin Dylan: 50/1 
  • Lostintranslation: 60/1 
  • Blaklion: 66/1 
  • Anibale Fly: 66/1 
  • Samcro: 80/1 
  • Coko Beach: 80/1 
  • Top Ville Ben: 80/1 
  • Agusta Gold: 80/1
  • Deise Aba: 80/1 
  • Brahma Bull: 80/1 
  • Poker Party: 100/1 
  • Domaine De L’Isle: 100/1 
  • Class Conte: 125/1
  • Romain De Senam: 150/1 

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