Aintree Grand National Stats, Trends, Tips, Odds & Offers

If there is one event in the racing calendar which seems to appeal to almost everybody, whether they have an interest in horse racing or not, it is the Grand National. This event, held at Aintree Racecourse, is a handicap steeplechase run over four miles and four furlongs. There are thirty fences to conquer and many jockeys believe this to be one of the most intense and difficult races in UK horse racing.

The Grand National is the highlight of a three-day racing meeting held at Aintree Racecourse, one of the least used racecourses in the country. In April 2013 the participants will be competing for a share of £975,000, but this will remain a pipe dream for most because many of the participants won’t come anywhere close to even completing the required two circuits of the track. All of the track is completed twice with the Chair and the Water Jump avoided on the second time around. The major fences for the horses to get over are Becher’s Brook, the Canal Turn and The Chair, which are often the points where many of the horses and jockeys pull out of the race, sometimes down to severe injury.

Grand National History

Aintree Grand NationalThe history of the Grand National began in 1829 when William Lynn leased land in Aintree with the intention of building a racecourse, the first stone of which was laid the same year. There is some debate as to when the race was first run – many historians agree it was in 1836 – but this is open to argument as the first three races were actually held at Maghull as opposed to Aintree. The first time it was held at Aintree occurred in 1839 and the Grand National has taken place there every year since, with the only exceptions being 1916-1918 when it was held at Gatwick Racecourse as a result of the First World War and from 1941 to 1945 when it was not held at all due to the Second World War.

The success of the race was almost instant with a number of events coinciding to boost its popularity. Firstly, one of the most popular races – the Great St Albans Chase – was cancelled for a short while and previously this had competed with the Grand National. In addition to that, a railway was built leading to Liverpool which brought in a plethora of punters willing to watch the race. And finally, it was one of the first horse races to have a committee in place to organise the event. The popularity of the race increased virtually overnight with considerably more visitors in 1839 than in previous years.

The Grand National has always had a reputation for being a ‘dangerous’ race with its fair share of casualties and fatalities over the years. However, none have had such a lasting effect as in 1928 when 41 of the starters (which left just one) fell during the race. Only two riders fully completed the course and this was almost repeated again in 2001 when only four finished due to the heavy ground.

Since World War II there has been, somewhat surprisingly, only two occasions in which the Grand National hasn’t been run on its traditional date. Whilst the race was completed in 1993, it was declared void due to a number of false starts and it was not re-run. Secondly, in 1997 the race was delayed until the Monday due to a bomb scare given out by the IRA, which was a shock to the whole nation.

Nowadays the race is without doubt the most popular in the racing calendar, whether somebody is partial to regular betting or not. The Grand National has given birth to some of the most memorable race runners ever (e.g. Red Rum), but it will also be remembered as an event which brings the world together with millions of viewers across the globe every year, all with money riding on the race.

Recent Grand National Winners

Winning the Aintree Grand National is one of the highest accolades a trainer, jockey or owner could ever hope to achieve in their horse racing careers. It might not have the class of the Gold Cup, but it’s still a major prize in the horse racing calendar and a race that always catches the public’s attention.

Here are the horses who have found the winning line faster than most in recent years…

2012Neptune Collonges (FR)33/1Nicholls, P F1111-6157Jacob, Daryl
2011Ballabriggs (IRE)14/1McCain Jnr, D1011-0150Maguire, Jason
2010Dont Push It (IRE)10/1ONeill, Jonjo1011-5153McCoy, A P
2009Mon Mome (FR)100/1Williams, Miss Venetia911-0148Treadwell, Liam
2008Comply Or Die (IRE)7/1Pipe, D E910-9139Murphy, Timmy
2007Silver Birch (IRE)33/1Elliott, Gordon1010-6138Power, R M
2006Numbersixvalverde (IRE)11/1Brassil, Martin1010-8138Madden, N P
2005Hedgehunter (IRE)7/1Mullins, W P911-1144Walsh, R
2004Amberleigh House (IRE)16/1McCain, D1210-10139Lee, G
2003Montys Pass (IRE)16/1Mangan, James Joseph1010-7139Geraghty, B J

Every single one of these was obviously a champion on their day, but Monty’s Pass was an especially significant winner for me as I’d been winner-less for weeks beforehand, whilst sitting with a 50/1 ticket on Monty’s in my hand for months, and come the day it did the business in style. And then there was the mighty “Hedgehunter”, a true out-and-out National horse, if ever there was one, who paved my hand with silver (and the rest!) for two years running in the world’s greatest horse race.

But I think the biggest “high five” of all, not just in the last 10 years, but in the last 35, needs to go to Ginger McCain and now to his son Donald McCain too. The father, Ginger, sadly now deceased, trained Red Rum to win the Grand National three times in the 1970’s and Amberleigh House to win some thirty years later in 2004. Like his Dad, Donald junior then went on to win the race with Ballabriggs in 2011, which must be one of his fondest memories as his father was to pass away just 5 months later.

The Grand National 2012

The 2012 running of the Grand National saw one of the closest finishes in the history of the race when Neptune Collonges only just got up on the line to win by the shortest of margins from the Jonjo O’Neil trained Sunnyhillboy, earning Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls his very first National success.

Here’s a video of the race, so you can relive the moment…

Grand National Stats & Trends

For a long time now the Grand National has proved to be an excellent race for profiling, by using the stats and trends of previous winners, to point you in the direction of those horses who are likely to run well in the current year. Indeed, those who have adopted this approach over the last few years would have had a fair chance of collecting on Montys Pass, Amberleigh House, Silver Birch (who was available at no less than 100/1 in places) and even Mon Mome who went off with a starting price of 100/1!

So, without further ado, here are the main stats and trends you need to consider…

  • AGE: No horse younger than 8yo has won the race since 1940 and 8 of the last 10 winners were aged 9yo or 10yo, so that’s the age bracket you should concentrate on. If you have a strong fancy for an older horse I wouldn’t let it put you off completely, but all the same do keep in mind that betting horses who are in their prime tends to pay dividends.
  • CLASS: Every winner in the last 10 years had an official rating of at least 138, but what’s noticeable is the number of winners and placed horses who have been rated around the 150 mark in recent years. Gone are the days where “anything can win the National” it seems, so siding with horses who have both class and stamina is your best bet nowadays.
  • WEIGHT: Since the second world war there has only been six horses who have carried more than 11-5 to success in the Grand National, but the 2012 winner carried 11-7 and like I said above, there seems to be an increasing trend towards the classier runners in the race. That said, it’s a huge task to lug big weights around here, so I’d definitely draw the line at 11-7.
  • STAMINA: It goes without saying that lasting out a 4 1/2 mile trip requires a fair amount of stamina, but every year there are fancied runners who have yet to prove that they stay at least 3 miles, nevermind the stamina sapping trip of the Grand National. The last winner who hadn’t previously won over 3 miles was back in 1970, so forget those who haven’t.
  • ABILITY: Following on from what I’ve said above regarding class, another important factor is the ability to win decent races. Each of the last ten winners of the race had previously won a race that was worth at least £17,000 so you need a horse with proven ability in competitive races. Neptune Collonges, the winner in 2012, had previously won a race worth £117k!
  • EXPERIENCE: The fences the horses have to jump in the Grand National are well known to be some of the most challenging in the world, so as well as requiring the class and stamina to win a race of this nature, you also need a horse who can jump well. Every one of the last ten winners had raced at least 10 times over fences prior to lining up for the big race.

Other factors to consider include horses who have been targetted for this race and in order to keep their handicap mark down they’ve been campaigned over hurdles in the run-up to the race. 8 from the last 10 winners fit the bill on that count. Something you should be wary of are horses who have raced at Cheltenham, which is only four weeks before the Grand National, because there’s no guarantee that they’ll have had sufficient time to recover. And finally, don’t be dissuaded if your fancy is from a lesser known stable or has an inexperienced jockey onboard. Gordon Elliott had only held a training license for 12 months when he won the National with Silver Birch in 2007, so “almost” anything is possible!

Grand National Tips & Analysis

I originally wrote this article on the 1st of February after Bet Victor went non-runner, free bet, so that if a horse was pulled out we wouldn’t lose on it and one of my original fancies (Prince Of Beauchene) has been withdrawn now. So I’m posting an update on the 2nd of April with a replacement selection.

Two of the bigger priced horses who fit the stats criteria above perfectly are…

Sunnyhillboy (available at 25/1)

I was so pleased when I discovered that this one ticked every box in the section above, because I do like this horse a lot. In 2012 he ran a perfect, near-winning race, but Neptune Collonges grabbed him on the line and after 4 1/2 miles of racing, he was beaten by a nose. Sigh – I’d backed him that day too. I think this year he’ll probably be racing off a similar weight, so I’ll be keen to back him again this year if the conditions are similar. A repeat of last year’s effort would surely be good enough on any normal year and I like the fact that they’re campaigning him over hurdles to keep his mark down.

Across The Bay (available at 40/1)

Currently the second-string for the Donald McCain yard (or so the odds would suggest), Across The Bay also has a very solid looking profile for a National horse. He was campaigned over hurdles mainly in the 2011/2012 season and ran some solid races in top class events, including a third place behind Big Bucks in the Grade 1 Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree in April. He then went chasing in October, winning his first two before finishing second, again at Aintree, on his third start. They then ran him in the Welsh Grand National on heavy ground with top weight of 11-12 where he ran well before tailing off towards the finish, but he’s since had a wind operation and he came back with a game hurdles win in February. He jumps, stays and has the class to win decent races, so the odds of 40/1 look generous to me!

When I first posted this article Sunnyhillboy was generally a 25/1 chance and he then shortened to 16/1 with the bookmakers, which is probably as low as I’d want to go, but after checking the prices this morning you can pick up 25/1 again today and almost 50/1 on Betfair on Across The Bay!

Grand National Odds

Looking for the best odds on this year’s Grand National? We’ve compiled the best odds for the big race from all of the major bookmakers in the UK, updated live and in real-time, so you’ll always be on at the best available price when you place your Grand National bets through!

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About the Author

is a lifelong horse racing enthusiast and full-time exchange trader with over 10 years experience in profitable trading. He's an expert at spotting when the odds are out of sync and will only back, lay or trade a position when he's 100% sure that everything is in place to generate a profit. When we need advice about a bet we ask Atholl and you're welcome to quiz him with your betting related questions too.

12 Responses to Aintree Grand National Stats, Trends, Tips, Odds & Offers

  1. Atholl Blair says:

    A big congrats to Sue and Harvey Smith, Ryan Mania (who was having his first ever ride in the race) and the rest of the team behind the success of Auroras Encore today! I’d never have picked that one in a million years, and I doubt I’m alone on that count, but it was most definitely a very impressive Grand National winner!

  2. Atholl Blair says:

    I updated this article today with a replacement selection for Prince Of Beauchene who was withdrawn last week due to an injury. If you placed that bet with Bet Victor, which is what I recommended at the time, you’ll have had your money back in the form of a free bet though. Even though he’s a big price (almost 50/1 on Betfair) I’m quite happy about recommending Across The Bay as the price seems way too generous to me!

    • Atholl Blair says:

      I just updated this article again this morning to reflect the current odds available. After AP McCoy opted for Colbert Station instead of Sunnyhillboy the odds on the latter drifted, but I wouldn’t be too concerned about the jockey bookings as Richie McLernon is perfectly capable.

  3. Nancy Matthews says:

    Hi Atholl et all,

    I live in Canada now but I’m originally from Widnes and I have fond memories of going to the Grand National with my mother, father and gran and grandad when I was young. I was only little at the time and I’m in my thirties now but I remember it oh so well. We took a picnic every year and it was something the whole family looked forward to. I visit the UK every second year usually and when I came across your article this morning it reminded me that I need to arrange next year’s holiday for April. My Mum and Dad are both still in Widnes and they would love to go again. I will arrange that!

    Thanks for the lovely reminder. I liked hearing about the history of the race too. I can only really remember having picnics there 30 years ago. It’s one of my fondest memories from when I was young, when all of my family was still around me. I will definitely try to bring the family over for next year’s Grand National, and we’ll have a picnic again. This has made me think. I maybe shouldn’t think, and talk, so much!!!

    Best wishes,


    • Atholl Blair says:

      Hi Nancy,

      That was a really nice message and thanks for sharing your memories of the Grand National. I’m pleased that what I wrote there has maybe triggered off a new family reunion for you and one you will all remember. That’s fantastic.

      One word of caution… there’s no guarantee about the weather here now, so bring your woolies with you. It’s currently snowing all over the country and this is meant to be Easter, just about anyway, so a picnic like the old days might be rather cold if you tried to do it again this week! :-)

      Thanks again for taking the time to share Nancy.

      Best wishes to you too,


      • Nancy Matthews says:

        Hi Atholl,

        Thanks for your lovely reply. We get snow drifts here that are 15 feet high so a little bit of snow doesn’t worry me. Everything stops in the UK when there’s snow, ha,ha, I remember that now, not here. We’re a hardy bunch in Canada! LOL.

        I will try to get to the Grand National again next year. I won’t be visiting the UK this year at all. We only come back every second year and my family come here the other year. I will make it to Aintree again some time!

        Best wishes,


  4. Duncan says:

    I’m just running back through the last month’s posts here Atholl and this was another belter on your part. Great write-up again and you’re probably not far wrong with your selections there mate!

    • Mike says:

      Yes, I agree too. I love the way Atholl explains a bit about the history of these feature races instead of just going straight to the horses he fancies. I always feel like I’m actually learning something when I read one of his articles.

      • Atholl Blair says:

        Gee, shucks, thanks guys. I actually find it quite interesting to read about the history of races (horse racing bore that I am!) and it’s always nice to look back over the recent winners and remember things that you so easily forget. When writing this I watched the re-run of Hedgehunter’s races a couple of times – what a horse that was!

        • Duncan says:

          Yup, I remember Hedgehunter all too well. Isn’t it amazing that the National is only a month away now? Where does the time go? Are you still as keen on these two as you were in February?

          • Atholl Blair says:

            Yes, definitely. I haven’t changed my opinion about the race at all Duncan. In fact, I put more money on both of them after one of your winners last week! :-)

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