Grand National Tips And Survival Guide

| April 1, 2011 | 8 Replies

As we’re now just over a week away from the Grand National and my favourite sporting event of the year, I thought it was high time to provide you with a few tips.

However, this is no normal race and as such this will be no normal set of tips…

You see, tipping the winner of the Grand National is one of life’s ultimate challenges, right up there with walking on the moon, flying faster than the speed of sound and licking your own elbow.

Lesser men may wince at the prospect but oh no, not me…

Welcome then, to my 2011 Grand National survival guide.

Rule One: Don’t miss the cut

Every year there are somewhere in the region of 90 initial declarations for the Grand National but, due to health and safety only 40 horses can compete in the race itself…

This means that many of those at the bottom of the handicap won’t make the cut.

At the moment we are down to 74 potential runners, with another round of declarations on Monday and the final round taking place next Thursday.

Now, we could wait until the final declarations to make our selections but by that stage the odds won’t be as good…

Instead we’ll take our chances but will only focus on the top 50 in the handicap, thus scrapping the remaining 24 horses.

Rule Two: Don’t shoulder too much weight

The Grand National is over four miles long and so it’s hardly surprising that the horses at the top of the handicap, i.e. those carrying the most weight, always seem to struggle.

In fact, in the last 53 years only Red Rum has carried more than 11st 5lbs to victory.

With that in mind we’ll ignore all horses carrying more than 11st 5lbs.

That means there is no room for Don’t Push It, Tidal Bay, Midnight Chase, Vic Venturi or What A Friend.

Rule Three: Don’t back the French

The Grand National is the horsing equivalent of warfare and so it should come as no surprise to learn that the French are rubbish at it.

2009 winner Mon Mome was the first French bred victor in nearly a century and I can’t see that anomaly being repeated this time round.

That rules out Or Noir De Somoza, Backstage, Notre Pere, Quinz, Quolibet, Ornais, Piraya, That’s Rhythm and Royal Rosa.

Rule Four: Don’t back the oldies

Could your nan run a marathon?

I’m willing to guess that she couldn’t and she certainly couldn’t run (and win) a marathon with a short fellow on her back, barking orders and brandishing a whip.

Quite simply, only two teenagers have ever won the National and that rules out Hello Bud.

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Rule Five: Jumping is quite important!

Do you really want to back a poor jumper in the toughest jumps race in the world?

No, thought not.

Not one of the last ten winners had fallen over fences more than twice in their entire career.

It’s a no thanks then to Big Fella Thanks and Arbor Supreme.

Rule Six: Horses need to be ‘match fit’ too

Just like footballers, horses need action to get ‘match fit’ and never more so than for the Grand National.

Makes sense then, that in the past 20 years all winners had run within the last 48 days.

That rules out Majestic Concorde, Dooneys Gate, Scotsirish, The Tother One, Silver By Nature, Calgary Bay, Becauseicouldntsee, Nedzer’s Return, Grand Slam Hero, Roll Along, State Of Play, West End Rocker, Frankie Figg and Our Monty.

Rule Seven: Stamina is more important than pace

Given the length of the race this is to be expected and is backed up by the fact that every winner since 1970 has previously won over at least three miles.

In Compliance falls foul of this rule.

Rule Eight: Select a horse with a touch of class

All of the last ten winners had previously won a Class A/1 race.

Not up to scratch are Ballabriggs, The Midnight Club, Ballytrim, King Fontaine, Santa’s Son, Can’t Buy Time and Character Building.

Rule Nine: There are courses for horses – experience is key

With its hulking great fences and hordes of screaming scousers, Aintree can be a scary place for a newbie.

No surprise then that eight of the last 11 winners had previously run at the track.

As a result we’ll pass over Oscar Time Bluesea Cracker and Surface to Air.

Rule Ten: Avoid the sentimental bull****

Just because a horse won you a few quid last year, doesn’t mean it’ll do it again…

Just because it lost last year, doesn’t mean it now owes you…

And just because the BBC have screened a montage of last year’s winner with Snow Patrol as the soundtrack, doesn’t mean he’s in a position to win this time.

Sentimentality costs money and we’ll ignore 2008 winner Comply Or Die.

* * *

That little lot leaves us with a shortlist of five: Chief Dan George, Killyglen, One Cool Cookie, Niche Market and Always Waining.

Of those, my concerns are Niche Market, due to the fact that trainer Paul Nicholls has never won the race and Always Waining, who is currently 50th in the weights…

As a result I’ll be dropping both of them but wouldn’t put anybody off a small bet.

As for the others, I’m advising half your usual stakes on each but don’t go mad (this is the National after all) and if you prefer to bet each-way, go for it.

Otherwise, bet half your usual stake on Killyglen at 66/1 with Coral, William HillWilliam Hill Sports or Betfair

Chief Dan George at 40/1 with William HillWilliam Hill Sports or Betfair

And One Cool Cookie at 64/1 with Betfair (40/1 elsewhere).

Right, that’s my race run – I’m going for a lie down!


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Category: Betting Tips

Comments (8)

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  1. Mj says:

    My selections are: Always Waining and State Of Play BOTH EW

  2. Michael Burgess says:

    I love your Survival Kit idea on the inscrutable Grand National but with me you fell at Becher’s the third time around! You eliminated Niche Market because his trainer had not yet won the National. Not only was that a thoroughly negative approach but it was also against all the principles which you usually employ in your wriing. Since the end of WW2 thwere have been 63 runnings of the National. In at least 51 of those the winning trainer was a National Virgin. In that time I can recall only 8 who have graced the winnwers’ enclosure more than once from Crump to Twiston-Davies through V. O’B; Rimell; Winter; McCain; Forster and Pitman.
    What a host of winners you would have missed if you had followed that logic consistently. You have forced me into Niche Market; this will be the first bet I have had on the National since I had a tenner on Devon Loch!

    Godd punting,


  3. Matt Houghton Matt Houghton says:

    Hi Michael,

    Fair point and I hold my hands up to you!

    My standpoint was that Paul Nicholls is no ordinary trainer – he has been champion for however many years on the trot and has had an awful lot of runners in the race (unlike many of the first time winners).

    However, it was a little negative and after McCoy won last year I should’ve known better.

    Partly due to your comment and partly due to the sad death of One Cool Cookie over the weekend, I will promoting Niche Market to one of the Betting Rant selections. There will be an email explaining all later today.

    All the best,

  4. ray says:

    On Sunday I placed three bets with William Hill by Phone.

    On reciving your information about One Cool Cookie, I called to check the situation, and was told that the rule is that I LOSE my money because I had placed the bet when I did.
    I belive that that is not a fair or right decision under the circumstance.
    I would have expected to at least be offered the oppertunity to put the same bet or more on another horse, but I was
    just told “” that is the rule””.
    As it happens I was intending to place a larger bet
    on Niche Market instead.
    So it is there loss as well.

  5. ray says:

    I am waiting for a reply from William Hill after sending an email
    to their customer service.
    re – my experience over non refund

  6. Matt Houghton Matt Houghton says:

    Hi Ray,

    I’ve replied over on the other page. Hopefully it’s just a case of the person that you originally spoke to not knowing about the extenuating circumstances.


  7. Charles E says:


    I have it from ‘good sources’ that Always Waining has a *strong* chance of winning… Don’t drop ‘Always Waining’, Matt. I will be having a £5 e/w. It’s worth a small punt and I hope I don’t regret it and forced to eat my own words. But I will be backing your own three selections as well. You have obviously shown sound reasoning in your selections – as usual!


    P.S. And the thing ’bout the French being rubbish at anything warfare – lol.

  8. Matt Houghton Matt Houghton says:

    He’ll certainly have a chance if he runs Charles. He’s currently just outside the cut however, so I’m going to wait and see if he makes it before putting my money down.

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