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Visit William HillThe Grand National at Aintree is unquestionably the greatest spectacle of all in the context of horse racing. It has truly global appeal (nearly 11million viewers in 2012) and if there’s just one race you’ll bet on all year, it’ll be the Grand National.

Even the most profit-and-loss focused individuals cannot resist the allure of the race, for all that the risk associated with a 40-strong field, 30 unique obstacles and the gruelling four-and-a-half mile trip are at odds with such punters’ sensibility.

Fact is, the sense of achievement and elation you experience when backing the National winner is unparalleled in betting terms. And while it would be folly to deny that luck plays a part, it’s by no means a ‘lottery’. Detailed below is a selection of trends to help you pick the winner of the Grand National.

Plotting a path… The most significant trend

The last eight winners all failed to win a chase or raced exclusively over hurdles in the current season prior to the Grand National weights being published (usually on February 12).

Once the weights are published, the handicapper does not have the opportunity to reassess a horse, regardless of what it achieves between that point and the big race.

In addition, ratings over hurdles and fences are independent of each other, so trainers are able to plot a path for their National hopeful whilst still preserving its handicap mark.

This is by far the most significant trend. Indeed, winning the National is a long-term plan. Horses being aimed at the race will be trained to peak at just the right time.

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In summary:
• Look out for solid staying chasers competing over hurdles, particularly in the early part of the season
• Just one of the last 14 winners scored over fences that season prior to the weights being published
• Only three of the last 16 winners ran at the Cheltenham Festival in the same season

Other trends/statistics to take into account:
• Since 1940, no horse under the age of eight has won the National
• Horses aged 12 or over have struggled in recent years
• Subsequent to 1978, no horse has carried more than 11st 6lb to victory
• You have to go back to 1970 for the last winner that had not previously won over a trip of 3m+
• The last 10 winners had all previously run over fences at least 10 times in their career

Favourite backers…

Though only five favourites/joint favourites have prevailed in the race since 1983, three of the last eight winners either headed the market or shared favouritism.

In fact, 12 of the last 17 winners returned at odds of 16/1 or shorter. This is indicative of the fact that the quality of competitors in the Grand National has improved in recent years.

We can expect this trend to continue. The last 10 winners had all managed to win a chase carrying a prize of £17,000 or more prior to Aintree glory.

Here’s a selection of this year’s contenders that tick the right boxes (listed in no particular order):
– Prince de Beauchene
– Sunyhillboy
– Ballabriggs
– Quel Esprit
– Quinz
– Cappa Bleu
– Chicago Grey
– What A Friend

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