It must be noted right from the outset that betting using trends alone is fundamentally flawed.
Trends can never be 100% reliable, simply because we are betting on a future event and not what has happened in the past. No single trend ever shows 10/10 winners as horses and training techniques continue to move on.
That being said, it’s good to keep the basic trends of Grand National winners over the last ten years in the back of your head.
There is a minimum age of seven attached to Grand National runners anyway, but even that doesn’t tell the full story.
Experience is crucial in this brutal test, and that experienced is gained by not only track time and mileage but also straightforward age.
Seven-year-olds may enter and some twelve-year-olds may also be on show, but really the Grand National winner is very likely to be aged 8-11. Age stats for the ten Grand Nationals between 2011 and 2021 are:
- Oldest: 11 (x3)
- Youngest: 8 (x4)
- Average age: 9
- Median age: 9
6/10 National winners were aged 8 or 9, in fact they represent the last six in a row. As the four renewals before that were all won by 10 or 11-year-olds, those age groups cannot be ruled out.
There are some great racing mares, always. In a handicap however, they are weighted according to their official rating and nothing else.
The higher up the competition ladder we go, the less likely it is that we’ll see a mare take on the geldings without an extra weight allowance and win.
In the case of the Grand National, all ten of the renewals we looked at were won by geldings.
The odds we looked at over the last ten Grand Nationals were all SP’s. While each winner’s starting price is important to note, we must always remember that many were backed in from bigger prices in the days leading up to the race.
So, while our stats show where each winner ended up in the market, that’s not to say they should have been discounted had they been offered at much bigger prices before the event.
Something to note other than the SP is the horse’s actual position in the market. One year a 20/1 shot may be fourth-favourite, the next year those same odds may put a horse 6th, 7th or even lower in the market.
SP stats for Grand Nationals from 2011-2021:
- Lowest odds: 4/1
- Highest odds: 66/1
- Average odds: 23/1
- Median odds: 19/1
Position in market stats:
- Highest position: favourite
- Lowest position: co-27th
- Average position: 11th
- Median position: 10th
These stats may even be skewed ever so slightly. Tiger Roll’s victory at just 4/1 in 2019 is something not likely to happen very often at all. He was also the only winning favourite during the ten featured years.
Matching these stats up with the age of winners; the three eleven-year-olds went off at co-13th, 15th and 27th favourites in the market. By contrast, the four 8yo winners were 2nd, 4th, 4th and 13th in the market and much better fancied.
A lot is said about weight carrying in the Grand National, so much so in fact that it is probably the single biggest stat or trend that people look out for. We must remember however that everything is relative.
First of all, the National is a handicap. Each horse is weighted according to their perceived current ability and so in theory, based only on the weights, all have an equal chance.
We know this is never really true and much can depend on conditions. If a classy horse carrying well above 11st has to encounter very soft ground, then as good as they are lumping that around over 30 fences and 4¼ miles will truly take it out of them.
On better ground however, or at least ground they prefer, their bigger weights may not worry them too much at all.
2011-2022 Grand National weight carrying stats:
- Biggest weight carried: 11-9
- Lowest weight carried: 10-3
- Average weight carried: 10-12
- Median weight carried: 10-12
11-6 was carried by Neptune Collonges in 2012. He was also a rare French-bred winner, an eleven-year-old, 20th in the market and easily the most experienced horse in our list of National winners. Many Clouds’ win off 11-9 was an extraordinary performance.
Two horses carried the lowest weight of 10-3, one an inexperienced eight-year-old and the other an eleven-year-old and second most experienced chaser on the list.
Tiger Roll carried 11-5 when winning his second Grand National, making he and Many Clouds the only runners to carry over 11st in eight renewals. That said, 10-7, 10-11 and 10-13 were all carried during that time which is normal.
Many Clouds, Neptune Collonges and Tiger Roll are all exceptions to the rule. Without them, the winning weights ranged only from 10-3 to 11-0.
For what it’s worth, our advice would be that official handicap ratings are more important than published weights.
The same size and shape of horse that wins a Class 2 handicap off 10-0 can win a Class 4 handicap off 11-12. For a 450kg beast, the weight range difference of 26lbs isn’t a massive deal.
The key when betting in handicaps is finding a horse you believe will run to a better level than its current rating, thus having “weight in hand”. With that, official ratings for Grand National winners are important.
Being rated too high isn’t just about carrying too much weight. The real negative about those at the upper end of the weights is the fact that those horses, having been rated so highly, are likely to have peaked and are therefore not ahead of the handicapper.
Those at the bottom win more often NOT simply because they carry a lowly weight, but because there is always a chance that there is improvement to come and that the handicapper therefore hasn’t rated them highly enough.
With this in mind, remember that if certain highly-rated horses at the top of the weights end up not running, then those rated lower will be moved up and will carry more themselves. That doesn’t necessarily diminish their chances if they indeed are capable of better than what they’ve shown so far.
Official rating stats of National winners:
- Highest rating: 160
- Lowest rating: 137
- Average rating: 150
- Median rating: 149
Many Clouds won off a mark of 160 in 2015 and that was an outstanding show, no doubt. But he was an in-form eight-year-old which shows that his rating and weight were not above him so long as he had more improvement to come.
Tiger Roll is a once-in-a-generation horse too, so without his second win in the list we’d have been looking at official ratings of 148, 148, 150 and 146 for winners in recent years which is a very tight bunch.
There are various things about the Grand National that make it so different from the top conditions races on the circuit.
Picture for example The Derby. Going over 1½ miles on the flat with very lightly-raced three-year-olds at Group 1 level means you will see a lot of horses having won last time out. Often more than a few come into the race unbeaten.
The Grand National however is for older horses, is a handicap, is run over 30 fences and is at such an extreme distance. These various conditions means that form, at a glance at least, looks to be all over the place!
That’s a nightmare for punters, but is it really the case? Many National contenders are sent hurdling for example, just to get them fit for the race and often run down the field giving them some strange-looking form figures.
With that in mind, we looked at chase races only to find the following stats:
- 8/10 ran in the first 4 in their last chase.
- 10/10 ran in the first 6 in the last chase.
- 7/10 won at least one of their last 3 chases.
When looking at chases only, these stats do not suggest that those out of form can suddenly crank it up and win a Grand National.
In terms of how many times, in total, Grand National winners have run in chase races before the big day, these are the figures:
- Highest no. of runs: 27
- Lowest no. of runs: 10
- Average no. of runs: 15
- Median no. of runs: 14
Uniquely for 8 and 9-year-olds, the average is 13 runs over fences and median figure is 12.
We’ve already got a good idea then of how many runs would be too many or too little for the perfect Grand National candidate. We’ve also seen that they don’t suddenly come back to form and that many come into the race in great chasing form.
In terms of winning however, that is another matter altogether. Not many Grand National winners have been prolific going into the race.
If they are, it tends to have come partly over shorter distances. While learning the ropes over 2½ miles can be valuable, we specifically looked at wins gained over fences in Class 2 company or above and over 3 miles or more:
- Most wins in these conditions: 5
- Least wins: 0
- Average wins: 2
- Median wins: 2
Neptune Collonges and Tiger Roll each won 5 chases at this level over three miles or more and both were unique. Rule The World in 2016 was the only horse not to have won in these particular conditions beforehand.
Ballabriggs, Auroras Encore, Pineau De Re, Many Clouds and Minella Times all won exactly two races in these conditions and that is pretty close to the sweet spot here. More than that may lead to them being exposed at the weights, less may mean they are not experienced or good enough.
Based on the averages and median numbers while at the same time giving ourself some wiggle room, if you are opting for trends then finding a horse or horses within these brackets may serve you well:
- Aged 8-10
- Odds of 10/1 – 25/1
- 4th – 10th position in the market
- Carrying 10-3 to 11-0
- Rated 146 – 157
- In the first 6 last time out
- Run in 10 – 14 chase races
- Won 2 -3 chases over 3 miles+ at Class 2 level or above
The idea here is that while keeping these stats in mind, do not use a process of elimination. Rather, you should use these trends as part of progressive thinking.
In other words, start from zero and add horses IN to your thinking based on how well they appear to suit the Grand National. Score them if you wish.
Beginning with 40 runners and chalking some off based on trends means you may well be deleting the potential Grand National winner before you’ve had a chance to see other stats that may back up their chances.