As British traditions go, the Grand National is up there with the Queen’s Speech, moaning about the weather, and throwing pints of lager into the air when England score
The Randox Health Grand National, Saturday 6 April, 2pm, ITV/HD (CH 103/113)
One of horse racing’s most historic meetings gets properly under way live on ITV this weekend, with 40 of the finest runners and riders going muzzle to muzzle at Aintree. But who will you be backing?
If you want to leave your choice to fate, simply click to play the video below, then click again to stop it at a random point to reveal the horse you should follow.
If, however, you fancy taking a more considered approach to picking a winner, we’ve trawled the history books to separate the myths from the cold, hard facts. Read on for our top tips.
Don’t pick a grey horse
In the long and storied history of the Grand National (which dates back to around 1836) only three greys have ever finished first – The Lamb (1868 and 1871), Nicolaus Silver (1961) and, most recently, Neptune Colloges (2012). Basically, if you’ve just painted your front room a fetching shade of Lunar Pebble, don’t take it as a sign.
Debutants have a knack of winning
Beginner’s luck has played a big role at the Grand National, with a host of jockeys coming out victorious on their first attempt. Recent debutants who have dazzled include Ryan Mania (2013), Liam Treadwell (2009), Niall Madden (2006), and Ruby Walsh (2000).
The favourite doesn’t always win
Why wouldn’t you back the favourite? After all, a horse has short odds for a reason, right? Because a mere five of the last 26 Grand Nationals have been won by the favourite, that’s why.
The last ten Grand Nationals have been won by horses aged between eight and 11. Eight-year-old horses have fared particularly well amid the rough and tumble of Aintree; triumphing in three of the previous four races. Thinking of backing a seven-year-old horse? Don’t. It’s been more than 75 years since one crossed the finish line first.
Better luck next time?
The Grand National has an intriguing recent record of horses coming back to win one year after they failed to make their mark. For example, Mon Mome won in 2009 after finishing tenth in 2008, while Silver Birch (2007), Hedgehunter (2005) and Amberleigh House (2004) all triumphed exactly 12 months after bombing on the course.
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