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2016 Grand National tips - A beginners' guide to the world's most famous race

The Aintree Grand National.

Are you a novice punter wondering how to bet on the 2016 Grand National? We've got a beginners' guide to the world's most famous race to help you get on the right track to a winner!


The Grand National – the world’s most famous race – attracts not only seasoned punters, but also the once-a-year bettors who at any other point of the year have little interest in the sport. The big race – held each year at Aintree – also serves for many novice punters as their entryway into a life-long relationship with horse racing.

For those people, the prospect of a big field of runners competing over a gruelling four miles and beyond and jumping those fearsome Aintree fences can prove a daunting task in picking out a winner. 

Finding the winner of the Grand National is more than just the horse’s name, or the jockey’s colours, or the random landing of a pen. However, many people rely on these tried and trusted novice methods – and sometimes with good luck! However, for those novices who want to be a little more scientific about arriving at their selection, we try to lift some of the fog which surrounds the big race information, such as handicapping and how the favourites have performed.

SIX FACTORS TO CONSIDER


There are plenty of factors to consider when analysing a particular horse’s chances of success. These can include:

Recent Form 

Has your fancy been winning or running well, or have they been running poorly? 
Have they fallen or unseated their rider? Perhaps pulled up?

A horse’s recent form figures may read something like 131FU2 – this would mean that the horse finished runner-up on its’ most recent run, but had previously unseated its’ jockey the time before, and had fallen in the run before that. However, it had won two of its three runs before then, finishing third on the other occasion.

Numbers indicate a horse’s finishing position, with ‘0’ indicating it finished 10th or worse. This is referred to as a ‘duck egg’.

Lots of mentions of ‘F’ or ‘U’ in a horse’s form-line usually suggest a horse isn’t a reliable jumper, and with the Grand National fences being particulary demanding, it can be worthwhile steering clear of these.

If a horse has ‘P’ in its’ form-line, this means it pulled-up and failed to complete the course in a previous run. This could be down to a number of reasons, including injury, or a failure to act on the ground, or the distance was too long.

Other letters that may be used in form-lines include: 

‘B’ indicates a horse was brought down, usually by another horse falling in front of it and where the horse being brought down can’t evade the stricken faller. ‘R’ means the horse has run out of the course boundary, and is out of the race. ‘C’ is similar to ‘R’ in that the horse has been carried outside the course boundary by another runner.

While it can be a good idea to look at the recent form of a horse, it is important to assess it in conjunction with its’ overall form. The horse could be going through a particularly strong period, but may have a history of inconsistency in the past. Recent form can only reveal so much.

Ground conditions

The state and condition of the ground can have a huge bearing on a horse’s performance.  

Some horses prefer quicker ground (good, good to firm, firm) while others prefer softer ground (good to soft, soft, heavy). Some horses are equally adept on both sides, and can act well regardless on a range of ground conditions.

Horses that race mostly on good ground may not run up to their best on softer ground, and vice-versa. Horses that pull up may do so because they have been unable to run well on the ground and have been left behind by other runners.

Distance

Are they proven at the distance. 

For the Grand National, most won’t have raced over the National trip before, but strong stayers over three miles and beyond give hope that they will see out the longer distance of the race. Look for horses who have a strong record of finishing their races off strongly over shorter distances, as it may suggest they need a greater test of stamina.

Course

Course form can be invaluable, especially if a horse has prior experience of the Grand National fences. Some horses have an affinity for certain courses, often running their best races at specific venues, or types of venues.

Trainer & Jockey Form

Trainers who have a good record around the course are often worth following, although pay attention to the form of their other runners for an indication of the stable’s form.

A stable who has sent out a lot of runners but has had very little winners would suggest the stable is out of form, and their runners may not be at their peak. Some trainers enjoy good records at certain venues.

Jockeys too can have a big say in a horse’s chance. The top riders such as Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty and Richard Johnson will be popular choices as they are the most recognisable, but other jockeys may have better records. While both Ruby Walsh (Hedgehunter, 2005) and Barry Geraghty (Montys Pass, 2003) have ridden a Grand National winner, Richard Johnson has yet to do so. Meanwhile, Leighton Aspell has ridden the last two winners, and he’ll be a popular selection to land the hat-trick.

Age

The Grand National tends to be won by horses that fall within a certain age range. Younger horses may lack the experience or physical attributes to be properly competitive, while older horses may have lost some of their speed and can be vulnerable to younger, fitter horses.

Most winners of the Grand National since the void race of 1993 have been aged 9,10 or 11; with only Bindaree (2002), Amberleigh House (2004) and Many Clouds (2015) bucking that trend. Both Bindaree and Many Clouds won as eight-year olds, while Amberleigh House was a sprightly twelve-year old when successful.

Weight

All 40 runners in the Grand National will carry an allotted weight, designed to give every runner an equal chance of success. 

Those at the very top and very bottom of the weight range have fared poorly in recent Grand Nationals, so it is often worth considering horses who carry less than 11 stones. That said, since 2010, all but two winners have carried 11 stones or greater to victory. However, it takes a very good horse to win the Grand National under a big weight.

HOW DOES HANDICAPPING WORK


As stated previously, the concept of handicapping is designed to give every horse as equal a chance of success in the race as possible. There are minimum and maximum weights for every horse to carry, with the best horse in the race being allotted the heaviest weight – 11st 10lbs – with the worst horse(s) carrying the minimum 10 stones.

The higher the horse’s rating, the more weight it has to carry, and a horse’s rating is measured in imperial pounds (lbs) which can be adjusted upwards or downwards throughout a season depending on how the horse runs. Unlike other races, the Grand National gives the handicapper some discretion to deviate away from the published ratings in order to make the handicap as fair as possible.

2015 winner Many Clouds, for example has an official rating of 165, while 2014 winner Pineau De Re has an official rating of 143. In simple terms this means Oliver Sherwood’s runner should carry 22lbs more in the Grand National than his predecessor.

As the maximum weight allowed is 11st 10lb, this would equate to an official rating of 164 once converted, so Many Clouds’ 165 rating earns him the top-weight status. Silviniaco Conti is the next highest rated horse in the entries on 163, so he carries 2lbs less than the 2015 winner with 11st 8lbs, and so on down the list.

THE BETTING MARKET


Don’t be put off by bigger prices surrounding your Grand National fancy, as since the void race of 1993, there have been few winning favourites in the race, but plenty of big-priced winners.

Rough Quest (1996), Earth Summit (1998), Hedgehunter (2005), Comply Or Die (2008, joint-favourite) and Don’t Push It (2010, joint-favourite) are the quintet to have won the race in the past 20 or years as a favourite, although the market leaders have a decent record of finishing in the frame.

However, their prices can often prove little value, and may be artificially low due to their trainer/jockey connections.

In the same time period though, there have been winners at 40/1, 33/1 (three times), 100/1, 66/1, and 25/1 for the past two years. 
The best horses in the race don’t always go off favourite!

2016 KEY RUNNERS

In the latest renewal, 2015 winner Many Clouds will bid to follow up his win twelve months ago, and give jockey Leighton Aspell a historic treble in the race. The jockey rode Pineau De Re to victory in 2014, and that horse is also likely to run.

There is also proven Grade One form in the shape of Silviniaco Conti, who has two King George VI Chase wins to his name amongst his many notable achievements, along with recent Gold Cup fourth Carlingford Lough, who also won the Irish Gold Cup.

Holywell from the Jonjo O’Neill camp could also line up following his excellent run at the Cheltenham Festival, as too could O’Faolains Boy, Sir Des Champs and Boston Bob.

The Last Samurai has been popular in ante-post markets since his Kempton win, and he followed up with another success at Doncaster when landing the Grimthorpe Chase.

And there is also the Grand National stalwarts in Soll and Rocky Creek, both of whom have gone well in the race in the past, as has 2015 runner-up Saint Are.



Countdown to Grand National

The 2018 Grand National takes place on Saturday 14th April and we'll have live coverage of the meeting on here and on Twitter.

Join millions of fans preparing to celebrate the build up to the world's most famous race - the Aintree Grand National.


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2016 Grand National tips - A beginners' guide to the world's most famous race

Are you a novice punter wondering how to bet on the 2016 Grand National? We've got a beginners' guide to betting on the world's most famous race to help you get on the right track to a winner!

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