It’s the only race in the Great British calendar that brings the whole country together.
It is the race that somehow, despite those in the community who would rather not have it even take place, comes through in the end with a story that would even stir the most sinkable of hearts.
The Grand National, due to jump off at 4.15pm on Saturday 11th April, is the only race that brings together all walks of life. Work colleagues, pub regulars, or family members, who would not normally contact each another but had better just check what dad is backing for the National. As always, dad knows best.
Down the years, a number of trends have come to the fore in the ever intriguing puzzle that is The Grand National.
Looking back at the last 18 Nationals, you first require a horse in some kind of form. Fourteen of the 18 winners of the race had finished in the first five last time out.
Last year’s hero, the Dr Richard Newland-trained Pineau De Re (20/1 at the time of writing with betfair to retain the title) finished third of 23 runners in the Listed Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle over three miles at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Ten years earlier, before Amberleigh House had reduced most of the country to tears with the great Ginger McCain’s first Grand National winner for 26 years since the legendary Red Rum, the 12-year-old had lumbered round Doncaster racecourse to finish 27 lengths behind Grey Abbey in the Class two Grimthorpe Chase.
The last 18 winners of the Grand National have carried no more than 11-6 to victory. Since 1997, 57 hopefuls have attempted to carry more on the way to National glory, with only six finishing in the first four.
In the last two years of the National, two winners, Tony McCoy’s Don’t Push It and the Paul Nicholls-trained Neptune Collonges carried 11st 5lbs and 11st 6lbs respectfully. This means 16 of the last 18 National winners carried 11st 1lb or less to victory.
Again, this is a negative for the Nicholls-trained Rocky Creek, Shutthefrontdoor and Hennessey Gold Cup winner Many Clouds.
Sixteen of the last 18 winners of the National had an official rating of 150 or below.
Auroras Encore (137), The Donald McCain-trained Ballabriggs (150), 100/1 winner Mon Mome (148) and the year 2000 winner Papillon (139) ridden by Ruby Walsh, for his father, Ted, were all rated 150 or less, when winning the National.
This is yet another negative for Shutthefrontdoor, Rocky Creek and Many Clouds, while Sam Winner, currently available as a 25/1 chance, the Phillip Hobbs-trained Balthazar King and 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere are all rated 150 or above by the official handicapper.
The last 18 winners of the Grand National were all running between 16 and 60 days since their last run.
An amazing 127 runners have jumped off in the world’s most famous race having not run for over two months, none of them won, only ten finished in the first four.
That is another negative for Shutthefrontdoor, who will be coming in to the race having not seen a racecourse for 152 days. The trend will also be asking questions of Balthazar King and the Nicky Henderson-trained Hadrian’s Approach.
The last 15 winners of the National had previously won at class two level or higher, which is vital for a race of this calibre. Runners need to step up to the mark in the race.
It is a must when looking for your Grand National selection to seek out runners that have won a race over three miles or more.
It would be a massive ask for a horse that has not yet won at three miles or further to go and win the Grand National.
Fourteen of the last 15 winners of the Grand National did not wear any headgear, that is to say Blinkers, Cheekpieces, Visor or an Eye-Shield.
Seventy-six runners have worn some kind of headgear in the last eight years, with only Comply Or Die winning and a further four placing in the race.
Of the runners that fit the criteria of the trends, the Paul Nicholls-trained pair Rebel Rebellion and Mon Parrain should not be discounted.
Irish raider Rubi Light, who was once rated 168 when running in the Grade One Ryanair Chase at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival, the Alan King-trained Godsmejudge and the ten-year-old Al Co, trained by Peter Bowen, are others for serious consideration for the Grand National.