The Marston’s 61 Deep Midlands Grand National (Saturday 16 March) is a Listed Handicap Chase run over 4 miles 2 furlongs and 8 yards at Uttoxeter Racecourse.
The race was first run in 1969 and, though it is potentially a trial for the Grand National at Aintree the following month, its proximity in the calendar makes it hard for horses to run in both events.
Despite that, the race has produced some famous winners including the 1975 winner Rag Trade who went on to win the 1976 Grand National. Meanwhile, the 1986 winner The Thinker and the 2010 winner Synchronised both went on to win Cheltenham Gold Cups.
The first prize of £84,405 means that the race tends to attract a competitive field despite being run the day after the Cheltenham Festival finishes.
Midlands National Trends
The last 10 winners had run 17 to 81 days prior to their success, with nine of those winners being rated between 126 and 138. The exception was Synchronised who was rated 143 and he went on to win a Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Plenty of light-weights have won this race but no horse in the last decade has carried more than 11-5 to victory. Eight out of 10 winners have also been aged seven, eight, or nine, with one winner being aged six and the other being aged eleven. None of the last 10 winners have fallen in any run in the same season before their success.
No winner in the last 10 years has been returned shorter than 6/1, but five winners have been priced-up at last than 8/1. The SP’s of the other five were 11/1, 11/1, 16/1, 16/1, and 25/1, and the last three winners were all returned at double-figure prices.
Midlands National Summary
American tops the weights for the 2019 Midlands National but a burden of 11-12 has proved difficult to carry in recent years. He also hasn’t run for 105 days, whilst he’s rated 155 without there being any obvious reason why he could prove much better than his current mark.
A highly-rated top-weight does mean that the rest of the field all carry less than 11-5, but the next eight are still all rated higher than 138. That list comprises Ms Parfois, Folsom Blue, Smooth Stepper, Dell ‘Arca, Ballydine, Dawson City, Prime Venture, and Arthur’s Gift.
Last year’s first and second Regal Flow and Milansbar are still potentially leniently weighted after last year’s exploits but both are older than ideal at the age of 12. Meanwhile, victory for Regal Flow would also make him the first horse to win the race twice in its 51-year history. Victory for Raz De Maree would also make him the oldest winner ever at the age of 14, with the only other teenager to win the race being the inaugural winner Happy Spring. At the age of 10, Final Nudge is also older than most recent winners.
Potters Corner also looks a risky bet after falling on his last two starts which, theoretically, narrows down the field to just eight runners: Jammin Masters, Chef D’Oeuvre, Back To The Hatch, Get On The Yager, Kilkishen, Jetstream Jack, Sandy Beach, and Ballymalin.
Ballymalin finished third in the race last year, so must have an each-way chance, but Get On The Yager looked a non-stayer, and Back To The Hatch was pulled up.
Kilkishen has possibilities on is fourth in the Eider Chase, but it’s asking a lot of him to run in two long-distance races in three weeks. Jammin Masters also has chances now he encounters heavy ground for the first time over fences, having won on that ground over hurdles, but his stamina isn’t proven.
Sandy Beach could be suited by this stamina test, having won at Uttoxeter earlier in the season, but Jetstream Jack was pulled up over three-and-a-half miles last season.
One horse that has always looked like he would stay any distance is Chef D’Oeuvre and he stayed on powerfully to be third over three-and-a-half miles at Haydock last time, as he did when fourth over shorter here at Uttoxeter earlier in the season. Those runs were on good and good-to-soft ground, but he also won on soft ground in between those races. More importantly, his three previous wins have all come on heavy ground and he could absolutely relish this test. His small stable’s two runners in the last nine days have also finished second and first and hopes are high that Chef D’Oevre can run a big-race at an each-way price.