The Grand National is the most famous steeplechase in the world, attracting millions of viewers and punters each year. As the event approaches, there is always a lot of speculation about which horses are most likely to win, and which factors are the most important for success. In this article, we will examine some of the key trends from recent years and discuss which horses might be best positioned to win in 2023.
Age has been a key factor in recent Grand Nationals, with six of the last seven winners being either eight or nine years old. This bodes well for horses such as Corach Rambler, Le Milos, Longhouse Poet, Our Power, and last year’s winner Noble Yeats, who was the first seven-year-old to win the race since before World War II. While it is possible for horses outside this age range to win, recent history suggests that younger or older horses may struggle.
Weight is another important consideration, and top weight has not won the race this century. Ted Walsh, the trainer of Any Second Now, has been critical of the weight allocated to his horse, who has finished third and second in the last two runnings. Walsh’s horse is off 11st 12lb, while Noble Yeats and Galvin carry just 1lb less. At the other end of the scale, no winner has carried less than 10st 3lb since Bobbyjo in 1999, which could be a concern for horses such as Hill Sixteen, Gabbys Cross, Recite A Prayer, Eva’s Oscar, and Our Power.
Form is always a crucial factor in the Grand National, and recent history suggests that winners tend to have won a race earlier in the season. Seven of the last nine winners had already won a race before Aintree, which is not a good sign for horses like Mr Incredible, Vanillier, Lifetime Ambition, Royal Pagaille, Roi Mage, The Big Breakaway, The Shunter, and Mister Coffey. However, three of the last five winners came into Aintree off the back of a win, which could bode well for Corach Rambler, Delta Work, Gaillard Du Mesnil, Any Second Now, Longhouse Poet, Our Power, Ain’t That A Shame, and Coko Beach.
Experience over the National fences is often seen as a key advantage, but recent history suggests that this is not necessarily the case. Nine of the last twelve winners had never run around the Grand National track, including the winners of the last two runnings. This could be a positive sign for horses like Corach Rambler, Gaillard Du Mesnil, Mr Incredible, Le Milos, and Our Power. However, five of the last ten winners had won over the National fences or recorded a top-six finish in the Coral Gold Cup, Scottish or Irish Nationals. This is a boost for Le Milos and Corach Rambler, who finished first and fourth in Newbury’s Coral Gold Cup in November.
Cheltenham Festival form is always a good indicator of Grand National success, with half of the last ten winners having run at the festival on their final start. Noble Yeats was ninth in the Ultima Handicap Chase en route to success at Aintree, which bodes well for this year’s winner Corach Rambler. Delta Work is attempting to emulate Tiger Roll by following up his win in the Cross Country with victory in the National, something his former stablemate managed in 2018 and 2019. Many Clouds was sixth behind Coneygree in the 2015 Gold Cup before winning the National on his next start, which is encouraging for Noble Yeats, who stayed on for fourth in last month’s Gold Cup.
Our verdict: Corach Rambler
Corach Rambler comes into the race on the back of a back-to-back win in the Ultima Handicap Chase, the same race that Noble Yeats won before taking last year’s National. Trainer Lucinda Russell has a successful track record in the race, having won it in 2017 with One For Arthur. At nine years old and carrying 10st 5lb, Corach Rambler is the right age and weight for success. Although lacking experience over Aintree’s National fences, this is not seen as a negative for the current ante-post market leader. In fact, favourites have had a decent record in the race, with six favourites or joint-favourites winning since 1996, despite the large field size and potential in-running drama.
Grand National Trial: In a Haydock thriller, Harry Bannister and Quick Wave edge out Snow Leopardess.
In a thrilling finish to the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock, Quick Wave beat Snow Leopardess to give Harry Bannister a welcome return to big race success after an injury-plagued season.
Bannister, who suffered a hip dislocation in the fall, arrived on Quick View after longtime leaders Cloudy Glen and Snow Leopardess went to three out.
Before Cloudy Glen finally gave in, any of the three horses could have won the last jump, but Quick Wave won at 18-1 to give trainer Venetia Williams her third win in the race, and Bannister won for the second time in four years.
Quick Wave, an impressive December winner at Sandown, came to this race after a disappointing Welsh National. Paddy Power offered Quick Wave a quote of 33-1 from 50 for the Randox Grand National, while Coral offered a more optimistic 25-1 for Aintree.
“I can’t take too much credit as she’s a lovely filly and credit to Venetia and the team who had her spot on today,” said Bannister. “She’s an exceptionally good trainer and I’m just so thankful for her faith to put me back on this mare.
“I probably ended up a bit closer to the inner than I’d have liked, but we saved ground where we could and she’s travelled strongly and stayed well. She’s the ideal mare for a race like this.”
Bannister added: “It means a lot to get this first winner back, it’s been a long road and there’s a lot of people to thank.”
Prior to this victory, Quick Wave had a rating of 148, which would have allowed her to compete in all five of the most recent Grand Nationals. On Tuesday, when BHA senior handicapper Martin Greenwood releases the weights, she is likely to receive an additional couple of pounds.
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