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Trends in the Grand National

Trends in the Grand National

The Grand National is one of the biggest sporting events of the year in the United Kingdom and the most valuable jump race in Europe. The handicap steeplechase is contested over 4 miles and 2½ furlongs, with 30 fences for the horses to clear during the race. Having been first run-in run in 1839, there is a great deal of history to the Grand National. For those planning to have a bet on the race, there are trends in the Grand National worth noting before placing a wager.

Is the favourite always a sure thing?

It can be tempting to bet on the favourite to win the Grand National for the simple reason the bookmakers believe it has the best chance of winning. However, are you more likely to place a winning bet by backing the favourite to win the Grand National? Looking at past races, the favourite has won the Grand National in 17% of the races since 1984. That equates to roughly one in six races and the reason we choose to use the data since 1984 is because the number of horses allowed to compete in the Grand National was set at 40 that year. Immediately, due to the number of horses in the race, the favourite becomes less likely to win the Grand National than your average horse race when there could be up to 20 horses competing.

There are also other factors to consider when backing the favourite in the Grand National, such as the difficulty of the fences. You must go back to 2019 to find the last time the favourite won the Grand National, but it is worth remembering the 2020 edition was cancelled. The previous favourite to win was a joint favourite in 2010, so trends show since 1984, more often than not, the favourite does not win the Grand National.

Some of the other trends in the Grand National of note include the age of the winning horse. For example, you must go back to 1940 to find the last time a 7-year-old won the Grand National. Horses aged 8 years or older have the best record, so if you are considering backing a 7-year-old to succeed, you may want to think again. The same applies to horses aged 13 years or more, who do not have a good record at the Grand National.

Is experience a factor?

It may be tempting to look at horses who have previous experience in the Grand National. Many horses run in the Grand National more than once but interestingly, up to 2021, 11 of the last 13 winners were having their first run in the race. So, experience is not everything when it comes to winning the Grand National and newcomers have been outperforming those who have previously raced in the event. 

When winning the Grand National in 2019, it was the second successive victory in the race for Tiger Roll. However, this is not something that happens often in the Grand National and you must go back to Red Rum in 1974 to find the previous horse to win the Grand National back-to-back. That is not to say it will not happen again, but trends show it could be another 30 years before we see another back-to-back win in the Grand National.

Finally, it is worth looking at Irish horses to win the Grand National. They have produced 7 of the last 14 winners in the Grand National, including Minella Times who won in 2021. So, it is always worth checking the stables when betting on the Grand National and Irish based horses have a habit of doing well in the race.

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