Grand National - At The Races


    David Myers looks at the key trends behind the Grand National meeting, from the records of trainers and jockeys at the race through to runners from the Cheltenham Festival and racing styles of the winners.

Aintree is a rich source of stats for the trends fanatic, so whilst we've dealt with the individual races in our Stats Guide section, David Myers has uncovered more gems of information that apply to the historic meeting as a whole.

He will cover every aspect of the three-day Aintree spectacular, in which the last 10 Grand National meetings have been firmly placed under the spotlight in the search of some winner-finding angles. We start with trainers and jockeys.


Aintree Grand National meeting 2008-2017

Trainer Total £1 Chase Hurdle NHF Non-hcp Handicap
N Henderson32-218+1612-7818-1162-2424-1208-98
P Nicholls23-356-12112-14811-1000-819-1354-121
A King13-95+95-237-491-2311-712-24
C Tizzard10-54+916-324-22--7-273-27
N Twiston-Davies9-115-393-694-402-68-471-68
W Mullins8-89-462-485-301-117-481-41
Jonjo O’Neill7-89-115-502-320-72-275-62
P Hobbs7-109-585-512-500-83-344-75
D Pipe6-125-654-682-550-23-343-91
T George5-45-24-311-110-34-241-21
Gordon Elliot5-54-62-332-181-33-232-31
D McCain Jnr5-103-603-372-550-112-403-63
P Bowen5-55+333-300-172-82-193-36
G L Moore3-37+130-122-211-42-195-62


2017: 3-17 (-£7)
2016: 2-13 (+£6)
2015: 3-23 (+£2)
2014: 4-29 (-£4)
2013: 5-31 (£0)

Henderson’s Cheltenham Festival winners at Aintree (last 10 years): 7-10 (+£5)
Cheltenham Festival runners-up at Aintree: 8-20 (+£10)
Cheltenham Festival thirds at Aintree: 4-15 (-£4)
Cheltenham Festival fourth or worse runners at Aintree: 20-78 (+£18)

Overview: With an overall level stakes profit at this fixture, Nicky Henderson remains a popular trainer with punters who backed those who arrived here via Cheltenham last time at 39-123 (+£29). A closer look also shows that Henderson did exceptionally well his 6yos on Merseyside at 17-58 (+£89), while runners officially rated 132-138 struck at 6-40 (+£55).


2017: 1-21 (-£16)
2016: 0-23 (-£23)
2015: 3-25 (-£3)
2014: 2-26 (-£17)
2013: 1-26 (-£19)

Nicholls’s Cheltenham Festival winners here (last 10 years): 6-16 (-£3)
Cheltenham Festival runners-up here: 3-20 (-£4)
Cheltenham Festival thirds here: 0-5 (-£5)
Cheltenham Festival fourth or worse runners here: 6-73 (-£33)

Overview: Paul Nicholls’s followers would have struggled to show a profit here in recent times, with his last 44 runners at the meeting producing just one winner. Those keeping the faith, however, may look to follow Nicholls in non-handicaps where he struck at 14%, compared to his handicappers at 3%.


2017: 1-6 (-£3)
2016: 0-4 (-£4)
2015: 0-11 (-£11)
2014: 3-11 (+£23)
2013: 1-11 (£0)

King’s Cheltenham Festival winners here: 1-4 (+£4)
Cheltenham Festival runners-up here: 4-8 (+£7)
Cheltenham Festival thirds here: 1-11 (-£7)
Cheltenham Festival fourth or worse runners here: 8-24 (+£11)

Overview: A winner at the 2017 meeting stopped a two-year drought for Alan King, thanks to Yanworth who represented King’s batch of British and French-breds that delivered at 12-61 (+£34), compared to Irish-breds (0-30 -£30). Yamworth’s victory in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle was also a non-handicap, a strong area for King here at 11-71 (+£8). The yard’s Cheltenham runners also shone at 14-47 (+£15).


2017: 3-9 (+£70)
2016: 1-2 (+£0)
2015: 0-1 (-£1)
2014: 0-5 (-£5)
2013: 0-1 (-£1)

Tizzard’s Cheltenham Festival winners here: 1-2 (-£2)
Cheltenham Festival runners-up here: 2-2 (+£9)
Cheltenham Festival thirds here: 1-1 (+£20)
Cheltenham Festival fourth or worse runners here: 4-28 (+53)

Overview: Having left Aintree with a memorable treble 12 months ago, Colin Tizzard then enjoyed a terrific final day double at Cheltenham last month, ensuring his small but select band of runners will be worth close inspection across the three days, especially runners he sends from Cheltenham, as they struck collectively at Aintree at 8-33 (+£80). Tizzard also boasts an impressive Grade 1 return of 7-17 (+£45) here, though do be wary of those that ran in a non-Listed/Graded race last time (0-17).

Nigel Twiston-Davies is another trainer to have enjoyed some memorable moments at Aintree, and non-handicaps are where to look for his runners (8-47 +£20; handicaps 1-68), while Willie Mullins has improved his record in recent years, with his 8 winners here since 2008 coming over 2m-2m4f (8-38 +£5) – each arrived from Cheltenham. The final mention goes to Philip Hobbs , a trainer to consider when sending a runner here who made the top four at Cheltenham (5-13 +£22).


Aintree Grand National meeting 2008-2017

Jockey Total £1 levels Chase Hurdle NHF Non-Hcp Handicap
B Geraghty22-110+1910-4412-540-1218-714-39
R Walsh20-120-398-5311-561-1117-833-37
R Johnson9-105+196-472-441-145-524-53
P Brennan8-77-56-402-280-96-402-37
N Fehily6-76-223-312-331-126-480-28
S Twiston-Davies5-88-431-422-362-105-480-40
T Scudamore5-83-302-413-370-54-431-40
W Hutchinson4-3702-162-140-72-192-18
D Jacob4-56+102-321-171-72-292-27
R Power4-22+152-172-40-13-91-13
Brian Hughes4-64+113-251-260-131-373-27


2017: 3-10 (-£4)
2016: 1-9 (+£14)
2015: N/A
2014: 4-16 (+£8)
2013: 3-16 (+£3)

Geraghty’s Cheltenham Festival winners here (last 10 years): 5-8 (+£4)
Cheltenham Festival 2nd & 3rd placed runners here: 6-13 (+£18)
Cheltenham Festival 4th or worse runners here: 6-37 (+£21)

Overview: Barry Geraghty is the leading jockey at this meeting, showcasing his talents once more 12 months ago when riding a treble. One of that trio came for his long-term trainer, Nicky Henderson, with whom he is 18-76 (+£8) during the last 10 years here. Geraghty also has a good record on those that arrived via the Cheltenham Festival at 17-58 (+£43).


2017: 1-9 (+£25)
2016: 1-10 (-£3)
2015: 1-11 (-£5)
2014: 1-12 (+£1)
2013: 0-10 (-£10)

Cheltenham Festival winners here (last 10 years): 0-4 (-£4)
Cheltenham Festival 2nd & 3rd placed runners here: 4-9 (+£18)
Cheltenham Festival 4th or worse runners here: 2-33 (-£14)

Overview: With no Tony McCoy or Ruby Walsh bossing matters at this year’s three-day meeting, this will be a good opportunity for Richard Johnson to try and record a double or treble. Johnson’s long-term partnership with Philip Hobbs returned six winners during the last 10 years for a small loss, though it was an outside ride for Richard Woollacott 12 months ago that produced a 33/1 winner. In terms of a simple method, then Johnson did well on Aintree runners that finished second, third or fourth at Cheltenham last time (5-13 +£27).


2017: 0-6 (-£6)
2016: 2-6 (+£7)
2015: 0-5 (-£5)
2014: 1-3 (+£14)
2013: N/A (injured)

Cheltenham Festival winners here (last 10 years): 0-3 (-£3)
Cheltenham Festival 2nd & 3rd placed runners here: 1-8 (-£3)
Cheltenham Festival 4th or worse runners here: 4-24 (+£5)

Overview: Paddy Brennan doesn’t ride many at this meeting, but is always a jockey to take seriously when partnered with a live chance at 16/1 or shorter 8-42 (+£30), even more so in non-handicaps at 6-40 (+£6), while in Grade 1 races Brennan is 5-20 (+£19).

Noel Fehily is another pilot who did well in non-handicaps at 6-48 (+£12), along with Sam Twiston-Davies (5-48 -£3).


Leading sires at Aintree 2008-2017

Sire Total £1 2m-2m1f 2m4f-2m6f 3m-3m3f 4m+
Old Vic17-123+882-153-3010-522-26
Kings Theatre17-184-932-5411-694-520-9
Kayf Tara14-153+127-532-485-470-5
Dom Alco10-47+211-61-107-251-6
Definite Article9-55+394-194-271-70-2
Bob Back8-64-182-124-232-220-7
Vinnie Rose7-34+283-83-161-90-

Currently heading the Aintree sire leaderboard for the last 10 years is Presenting, who is also enjoying a good 2017/18 jumps season courtesy of over 90 winners – just one place behind Flemensfirth. The fact Presenting also shows a clear level stakes profit here makes his stock of interest across the three days, especially over trips of 2m4f-3m3f, where the likes of Top Gamble could be of interest in the Topham Handicap Chase (more so if the recent rain continues).

Oscar also features highly on the leaderboard, and gave punters a reminder of his stock’s effectiveness here when producing both Louis’ Vac Pouch (3m1f) and Bags Groove (2m4f) to win at the famous track last autumn.

Aintree last 12 months

Sire W-R £1
Definite Article3-8+22
Kayf Tara2-22-8

Definite Article also sent out a trio of winners at Aintree during the last 12 months, and his 2m-2m4f runners are always worth a second look, having returned a record of 8-39 (+£52) here. As for which stallions’ progeny won the major Graded races this season, then Flemensfirth - who averaged a winner each year at Aintree since 2008 - produced over 10 big-race winners during the last six months.

However, having already experienced such a wet spring in 2018, there is a chance testing conditions may await on Merseyside, and should that be the case then it’s worth knowing which of the leading Aintree sires produced improved strike-rates when the mud was flying during the last five years…

2014-2018 - Jumps

SireAll tracks/all groundSoft & heavy ground
Kayf Tara12%16%
Kings Theatre14%16%

Aintree specialists

While sire stats are an excellent way of finding out if a horse may take to Aintree, it can also prove wise to stay on side of those who have already been there and done it here. Therefore, the following chart highlights which Aintree specialists made a habit of finishing in the frame.

Horse Wins Placed Unplaced Each-way %
Cue Card240100%
On The Fringe20167%
The New One21260%
Bears Affair31944%
Saint Are231242%
Clondaw Kaempfer21837%

(Only runners that raced this jumps season with two course career wins and a 33% each-way strike-rate or better at Aintree are featured).

There will be plenty of interest as to whether Cue Card will be tackling Aintree once more having been pulled up at Cheltenham, and the fact he has yet to be unplaced on Merseyide in six outings must give him a chance of signing off with a big run.


Pointers From Cheltenham

Did the difference in days and ground between Cheltenham to Aintree make a difference during the last 10 years?

Year Cheltenham grnd Aintree grnd Days gap Aintree winners from Cheltenham £1
2018Heavy/Soft?19 days?
2017Gd-soft/GoodGd/Gd-soft19 days13-124 (9%)+9
2016Gd-soft/GoodSoft19 days14-124 (11%)-23
2015Gd-soft/SoftGd/Gd-soft27 days13-118 (11%)-18
2014Gd-soft/GoodGd/Gd-soft18 days13-129 (10%)-30
2013Soft/Good to softGd/Gd-soft20 days10-100 (10%)-31
2012GoodGd/Gd-soft27 days11-94 (12%)-1
2011Good/Gd to softGd/Gd-soft21 days10-109 (9%)-47
2010Gd-soft/SoftGd/Gd-soft20 days13-113 (11%)+27
2009Gd to softGd/Gd-soft20 days12-140 (9%)+1
2008Gd to softGood20 days9-112 (8%)-45

The ground at the two big festivals remained fairly consistent down the years, but this year represents a different scenario altogether following testing ground at Cheltenham last month. In fact, should the ground come up soft at Aintree, you’d need to go back a long way for when both festivals were run on testing ground, which was in 1989 – the year Desert Orchid won the Gold Cup.

“Dessie” was actually turned out again at Aintree, but his exertions from the Gold Cup may have told when he fell in the Martell Cup, though others to have run well at Cheltenham that year did taste glory at Aintree. Of the 54 horses to have made the top three at Cheltenham in 1989, 21 went to Aintree, resulting in three winners (14%) and three runners-up – enough evidence to suggest the 2018 Cheltenham protagonists heading to Merseyside should cope if the ground is testing once more.

Single-figure strike-rates for Cheltenham runners were also returned at Aintree in three of the four years from 2008-2011, but double-figure strike-rates were achieved in five of the last six years, suggesting an improvement, especially with those coming via the following races:

Arkle Chase supplied 15 of the last 20 Maghull Novices’ Chase winners
Champion Chase supplied 13 of the last 20 Melling Chase winners
Triumph Hurdle supplied 11 of the last 15 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle winners
World Hurdle supplied 10 of the last 11 Liverpool Hurdle winners
Gold Cup supplied 9 of the last 14 Bowl Chase winners

Meanwhile, the number of days rest from Cheltenham to Aintree didn’t seem to have an effect, with a shorter 19 to 20-day gap – which it is again this year – bringing mixed results. However, with a total of 123 Aintree winners coming via the Cheltenham Festival since 2008, a closer look is required to highlight the areas of profit – handicaps or non-handicaps, hurdles or chases?

Aintree runners from Cheltenham 2008-2017


NHF (Bumper)3-2612%+1

Down in class32-32610%+58
Up in class48-6018%-26

First at Cheltenham30-9532%+18
Second at Cheltenham23-10721%-11
Third at Cheltenham15-9815%+76
Fourth at Cheltenham10-9311%-10
Fifth to tenth at Cheltenham29-4177%-77
Eleventh or worse at Cheltenham5-2032%-81
Fell at Cheltenham3-526%-39
Unseated at Cheltenham4-233%+11
Pulled up at Cheltenham2-793%-60

The above table suggests treading carefully when contemplating a Cheltenham runner who runs in an Aintree handicap. However, don’t ignore those who that arrive bang in-form having made the top three at Cheltenham, as they delivered here for a collective record of 68-300 (+£83), while those dropped in class also came out in front.

Finally, Cheltenham runners that raced over trips of 2m½f-2m1f at Prestbury Park (not 2m) and then came to Aintree, also returned a record of 39-332 (+£110).


Aintree has long been viewed as a speedy track suiting those near the pace, but with only 11 front-runners winning from the last 105 races at this fixture (10%), those tracking the pace or held up appear more favoured.

Last five Grand National meetings 

8-10 April 2017, Soft (good to soft)

TacticWinsNumber of runners per race
Led25, 22
Prominent or tracked leaders125, 6, 6, 9, 13, 14, 16, 18, 19, 22, 28, 29
Mid division or held up77, 8, 9, 11, 11, 19, 40

7-9 April 2016, Soft (good to soft)

TacticWinsNumber of runners per race
Led36, 8, 8
Prominent or tracked leaders115, 6, 6, 9, 9, 12, 17, 19, 22, 22, 39
Mid division or held up76, 11, 14, 15, 17, 17, 29

9-11 April 2015, Good (good to soft)

TacticWinsNumber of runners per race
Led36, 7, 19
Prominent or tracked leaders86, 9, 10, 12, 19, 21, 29, 39
Mid division or held up106, 9, 10, 10, 11, 16, 17, 21, 21, 30

3-5 April 2014, Good (good to soft)

TacticWinsNumber of runners per race
Prominent or tracked leaders95, 6, 6, 7, 7, 10, 19, 22
Mid division or held up117, 10, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 22, 40

4-6 April 2013, Good (good to soft)

TacticWinsNumber of runners per race
Led26, 9
Prominent or tracked leaders86, 6, 6, 8, 9, 10, 17, 40
Mid division or held up114, 4, 8, 13, 18, 19, 19, 21, 22, 24, 29

It’s worth noting that of the 34 races with 19 runners or more, only three fell to a front-runner, 15 went to a ‘tracker’, and 16 went to a hold up/midfield performer. Clearly, those with a patient style of running should be given a second look in big fields, while “in-running” backers may choose to look for such runners making progress from behind.


While the Graded events at Aintree provide plenty of punting opportunities at the champagne end of the scale, it is often the handicaps that allow punters a crack at finding a juicy-priced winner. While such big-field events at festivals are tough nuts to crack, the assistance of a few trends and stats can help point the way. For instance, 6yo handicappers have a much superior strike-rate and profit than other age groups.

Weight W-R % £1

Official Rating W-R % £1
Age W-R % £1
Distance move from LTO W-R % £1
Down 1.5f to 1m4f9-1815%-76
Same-down 1f28-4057%+128
Up 0.5f-3f9-4042%-276
Up 3.5f-4.5f16-1948%+177
Up 6f or further9-4442%-205
Up 6f or further9-4442%-205
Track LTOW-R£1
Sandown (7) Uttoxeter (4) Kelso (3) Stratford (2) Aintree (2)16-165+339
Newbury (2) Newcastle (1) Haydock (1) Fairyhouse (0) Leopardstown (0) Ascot (0)4-299-237
Newbury (2) Newcastle (1) Haydock (1) Fairyhouse (0) Leopardstown (0) Ascot (0)4-299-237

Runners carrying around 11st, along with an official rating of 129-130, came out well in handicaps at the Aintree festival during the last 10 years, while another clue came via the track visited last time out, with Sandown providing seven Aintree winners – be wary of those arriving via Ireland.

The final pointer when eyeing up a potential handicap wager is to check the distance from last time, as those that raced over the same trip or dropped a furlong did well (+£128), along with those that stepped up considerably in trip (up 3.5f to 4.5f), who found significant improvement for a handsome profit.

Clear or joint favourites W-R % Profit/loss to £1




Favourite backers will need to be careful across the three days at Aintree, as they struck just once in every four races for a big overall level stakes loss of -£65. Even when the jollies enjoyed a good meeting in 2012 and 2013, they only achieved a small profit.

Such news means backers may need a few guidelines if seeking a profit via the market leader – for instance, favourites dropping in trip by a furlong or further from Cheltenham struck at 13-36 (+£5), while favourites who won by less then 1l last time at any track (but not a short head) delivered at 11-27 (+£13).

The 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle on day one also offers another opportunity for favourite backers, as the jolly struck in seven of the last 12 years for a level stakes return of +£7.

Second favourite (incl. joint) W-R % Profit/loss to £1



With favourites not covering themselves in glory across the three days at Aintree, an opportunity for second favourites to grab glory emerged, including in non-handicaps, where they triumphed at 34-144 (+£3).

Other pointers when backing the second-fav include those beaten 2l or less last time at 10-30 (+£24), while runners in the 7/4 to 7/2 bracket offered value at 21-58 (+£26). Do be wary of any second-fav dropping in class from last time, though, as they won here at just 4-44 (-£23).

But, for punters seeking a big double-figure priced winner to pay for their summer holiday, then both bumper events at the end of Friday and Saturday’s cards proved a good hunting ground. During the last 10 years, there were “bumper” winning odds of 28/1, 25/1, 25/1, 20/1, 14/1, 14/1, 14/1 and 14/1, including Dame Rose at 14/1 in 2017. In fact, £1 placed on every runner in the Friday/Saturday bumpers at 15/2 to 28/1 returned a blind profit of +£65.


With so many juicy fields on offer over the three days, the Placepot is certainly worth considering, as there have been some tasty dividends over the years, although day two (Friday), proved consistent in paying out a minimum of £100 in nine of the last 10 years.


2017: £205
2016: £9,947
2015: £359
2014: £386
2013: £117
2012: £33
2011: £250
2010: £1,066
2009: £3,818
2008: £278

With the prospect of another £100+ dividend, here is a guide to all sixes races covering day two’s Placepot…

1.40: Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle (2m4f)

Of the last 40 placed runners during the last 10 years…

32 ran during the last 30 days
30 had 4 handicap hurdle runs or less
27 were officially rated 133-145 (21%) – others were 11-67 (16%)
21 arrived via the Cheltenham Festival
N Henderson had 6-22 placed; J O’Neill 4-11.

Placed runners breakdown of odds:
11/2 or shorter: 1-7
7/1 to 8/1: 10-29
9/1 to 16/1: 19-63
18/1 to 40/1: 13-91
50/1 or bigger: 2-25
Favourites & joint place record: 2-10

Top tip: Be wary of favourites.

2.15: Grade 1 Top Novices’ Hurdle (2m)

Of the last 28 placed runners during the last 10 years…

28 won 1-3 UK hurdle races
23 ran in a Graded race last time
21 were French or Irish-bred
17 were officially rated 141-158 (49%) – those lower were 11-69 (16%)
16 ran at Cheltenham last time (16-32)
15 were 5yos (16-52)
N Henderson (6-14) & P Nicholls (4-9) had 10 placed between them

Placed runners breakdown of odds:
11/4 or shorter: 8-11
4/1 to 13/2: 7-17
7/1 to 14/1: 9-28
16/1 to 50/1: 4-34
66/1 or bigger: 0-14
Favourites place record: 8-11

Top tip: Consider “banking” on the favourite.

2.50: Mildmay Novices’ Chase (3m1f)

Of the last 26 placed runners during the last 10 years…

18 arrived via Cheltenham last time
17 were officially rated 148 or higher (50%) – those 147 or lower were 9-40 (24%)
17 were upped in trip from 0.5f-1.5f to last time (46%); others were 24%
16 ran in a Grade 1 or Grade 2 last time (40%) – others were 29%
P Nicholls had 5-11 placed, N Henderson had 3-7.

Placed runners breakdown of odds:
4/6 to 9/4: 7-10
5/2 to 7/1: 12-24
15/2 to 12/1: 4-18
14/1 or bigger: 3-22
Favourites place record: 5-11

Top tip: Stick with fancied runners.

3.25: Grade 1 Melling Chase (2m4f)

Of the last 27 placed runners during the last 10 years…

25 ran in a Grade 1 last time
23 ran during the last 21-30 days
22 were 7-9yos
15 finished 1st or 2nd last time (15-26); those 3rd or worse were 12-60
14 were officially rated 166 or higher (14-23); those rated lower were 13-64
Jonjo O’Neill had 4-4 placed, C Tizzard was 3-3, and P Nicholls was 3-10

Placed runners breakdown of odds:
10/3 or shorter: 8-10
7/2 to 15/2: 13-25
8/1 or bigger: 6-51
Favourites & joint place record: 8-12

Top tip: Stick with classy runners officially rated 166 or higher.

4.05: Grade 3 Topham Chase (Handicap) (2m5f)

Of the last 40 placed runners during the last 10 years…

39 had an official rating no more than 7lb higher than last time
38 failed to win last time
24 ran during the last 16-25 days
23 were 9-10yos (17%); other ages were 11%
N Henderson had 5 placed (5-20), P Bowen had 4-12, W Mullins had 4-12
Those officially rated 145-159 were placed at 24% - those 144 or lower were 12%

Placed runners breakdown of odds:
7/2 to 8/1: 3-19
9/1 to 22/1: 21-110
25/1 to 40/1: 13-100
50/1 or bigger: 3-59
Favourites & joint place record: 2-11

Top tip: Be wary of those at the head of the betting.

4.40: Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (3m)

Of the last 30 placed runners during the last 10 years…

27 were British (28%) or Irish-bred (20%) runners; French were just 3%
23 were officially rated 135 or higher (23%) – others were 14%
21 were 6yos
21 won 50% or more of their UK hurdle outings (29%); others were 12%
17 arrived via Cheltenham (9), Newbury (4), Haydock (2) or Ludlow (2)
N Henderson was 3-7

Placed runners breakdown of odds:
1/2 to 4/1: 7-12
9/2 to 8/1: 7-27
17/2 to 12/1: 5-26
14/1 to 40/1: 10-56
50/1 or bigger: 1-28
Favourites place record: 6-10

Top tip: British-bred runners have an excellent strike-rate.