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Grand National 2019: How to pick a winner on horse racing?

| 08.04.2017

The Grand National takes place at Aintree Racecourse annually, and it has a reputation for being one of the toughest horse races in the world. This year’s renewal takes place on Saturday 6th April at 5:15pm.

The race lasts for two laps of the Aintree course covering slightly under four-and-a-half miles or 4m 2 1/2f.

There are 30 fences to jump in the race, with 16 on the first lap and 14 on the second. Fence number 15 is one of the most famous in horse racing, known as The Chair. It’s a notoriously difficult fence to jump with it being 5ft 6in tall, and preceded by a 6ft open ditch.

It’s becoming more and more difficult to predict who will win this race year by year, with 2010 the last race where a favourite or joint favourite rode to victory. Like usual, you’re in charge of giving yourself the best shot at glory.

The form guides and trend guides will give you key information that’ll aid your chances of backing a winner, but what else should you think about choosing a horse in the Grand National?

Horse Racing - Crabbies Grand National 2015 - Grand National Day - Aintree Racecourse

What to consider when choosing a horse to back?

You should always keep an eye on the form, especially paying close attention to how the horse has performed over similar courses, distances and the going of the course.

Some horses run better on softer courses, so if the going is soft, or good to soft, it might be worth looking at how a horse has fared in previous races under similar conditions.

Age is important to look into as well. It doesn’t play a huge role in determining who wins, but generally horses that win the Grand National are between 8 and 10 years old. The younger horses have ruled recently, with eight-year-olds winning three of the last four races.

Weight and stamina should also be considered, however it’s hard to determine the stamina of a horse without watching their running regularly.  As well as that, the stamina of the horse running is partly determined by the jockey, as they’ll be in charge of pushing the horse at the right moment.

Any horse can spring a surprise and win, even as a heavy outsider. In 2009, Mon Mome, trained by Venetia Williams and ridden by Liam Treadwell, ran out as a 100/1 outside shot of winning. The nine- year-old won by 12 lengths over 14/1 shot Comply or Die, with the 7/1 favourite Butler’s Cabin finishing seventh.

Which trainers to look out for?

The 2018 Grand National was won by Tiger Roll, who is trained by a two-time Grand National winning trainer Gordon Elliott. He’s entered 19 of his trained horses into the race, including Tiger Roll, Outlander and Alpha Des Obeaux.

He’ll be hoping that his horse can retain the crown and win his second consecutive National race, becoming the first horse and trainer combination to win back to back meetings since Red Rum and Ginger McCain in 1973 and 1974.

Willie Mullins is another previous winner to be running in this year’s race. The Mullins-trained Hedgehunter took the Grand National win back in 2005 as the 7/1 favourite. This year, Mullins has seven horses running at Aintree, with Pleasant Company and Rathvinden the two that are expected to challenge for the Grand National win this year.

Paul Nicholls is another world-renowned horse trainer, and is another of those in the entry list to have already grabbed a win at this track. 2012 saw Henderson-trained Neptune Collonges, ridden by Daryl Jacob win the meet at 33/1 odds.

Lucinda Russell trained 2017 winner One For Arthur, and she’s entered the now 10 year old again in this year’s race. Previous winners are always good to look out for, but it might be asking too much of One For Arthur to beat this year’s favourite Tiger Roll.

Which jockeys to keep an eye on?

With Tiger Roll the front-runner for the race, whoever jockeys him will be one to look out for. At Cheltenham Festival, Keith Donoghue rode the gelding to a comfortable win in the Cross Country Chase by 22l. But in last year’s Grand National victory, it was Davy Russell who expertly rode the Gordon Elliott-trained horse to victory by a head.

Both jockeys have an excellent success rate and as much experience in the field as you could hope for, so whoever Elliott chooses to ride Tiger Roll here will be someone to look out for. Due to their previous experiences, they should be able to get the best from Tiger Roll on the day too.

Two-time Grand National winner Ruby Walsh could be another that will get the best out of the horse he’s tasked with riding. He famously rode Hedgehunter to the win in 2005 for trainer Willie Mullins, and he could be picked to ride another of Mullins’ front-runners.

Leighton Aspell is another of the jockeys to look out for, having already achieved two Grand National victories. He was the first jockey since Brian Fletcher on Red Rum to win back-to-back Nationals in 1973 & 1974. He won the 2014 ride on Pineau De Re, following up with a 2015 on Many Clouds.

How to bet on a horse?

There are a few things you should consider when placing a bet on a horse. Firstly, there are no bankers when it comes to favourites. There are so many different scenarios that could play out such as weather, training and injury.

There are also different types of bet that you can place on a horse. If you’re going for the favourite then a single bet isn’t likely to be value for money, especially if the odds are short. The larger the odds, then the bigger shock it would be if the horse was to come through with the win.

Stakes don’t have to be big to make money, and an each-way bet could give you a good chance of making money from the result. Depending on the type of race, you can still win an each-way bet if the horse you’re backing doesn’t come through and win the race. In some cases, you can get a payout if your horse finishes in the top four – we’re offering 1/4 odds on each-way bets if your horse finishes fourth or higher in the Grand National this year.

You should always use betting as an enhancement to your enjoyment of the racing action, with the racing at Aintree bound to be a thriller.

Follow our Grand National runner profiles here.

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Drew Goodsell

Drew is a journalism graduate who closely follows American sports, focussing on the NBA and NFL. He also has a keen interest in all things football, paying regular attention to the Premier League, Bundesliga and Ligue 1.