Grand National - At The Races

Trendspotting

    We look 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.

With three days of pulsating action for punters to get stuck into at Aintree, every piece of information will be required to do battle with the bookies, and one way of trying to gain an edge over the old enemy is via statistics and trends – step forward the 2019 Aintree Festival Trendspotting Guide.

The Guide will be armed with a host of winner-finding angles, from how Aintree favourites performed to which Cheltenham Festival races provided clues, but we start with one of the most popular methods involving trainers and jockeys, concentrating in particular on those who struck most in recent years.

TRAINERS – THE BIG SIX

Nicky Henderson (2009-2018)

Aintree Festival winners: 34-223 (-£21)

The leading trainer at this festival during the last 10 years courtesy of 34 winners, Nicky Henderson is most certainly a name to focus on across the three days, especially after last year’s five-timer. Henderson is also enjoying another excellent season and is again fighting it out with Paul Nicholls for the trainers’ title, suggesting he’ll be keen to mop up any prize money in the big events. But, don’t forget Henderson in the handicaps either, with the Grade 3 handicap hurdle on day two (2m4f) going his way in three of the last six years.

Henderson’s Cheltenham Festival winners at Aintree: 7-10 (+£5)
Cheltenham Festival runners-up at Aintree: 9-23 (+£11)
Cheltenham Festival thirds at Aintree: 3-16 (-£3)
Cheltenham Festival fourth or worse runners at Aintree: 9-80 (+£1)

Top races (since 1997): Top Novices’ Hurdle (5 wins); Aintree Hurdle (4 wins); Mildmay Novices’ Chase (4 wins); Topham Chase (4 wins); 2m4f Handicap Hurdle (3 wins)
Positives: 6yos (17-60 +£68); Raced twice during previous 90 days (22-96 +£38); Officially rated 132-138 (5-37 +£37)
Negatives: Listed (1-27 -£16); Only one run for Henderson that season (0-21 -£21)

PAUL NICHOLLS

Aintree Festival winners: 19-221 (-£103)

Paul Nicholls’s duel with Henderson this season is once again propelling the pair towards the big prizes, and Nicholls himself has won nearly all the major races at Aintree, including of the Grand National with Neptune Collonges in 2012. While the National is a handicap, it is the non-handicaps Nicholls in with more regularity, especially early in the meeting on day one.

Nicholls’s Cheltenham Festival winners here (last 10 years): 6-15 (-£2)
Cheltenham Festival runners-up here: 2-17 (-£9)
Cheltenham Festival thirds here: 0-4 (-£4)
Cheltenham Festival fourth or worse runners here: 6-75 (-£27)

Top races: Maghull Novices’ Chase (7 wins); Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (4 wins); Stayers Hurdle (4 wins); Bowl Chase (3 wins); Melling Chase (3 wins); Mildmay Novices’ Chase (3 runs)
Positives: Non-handicaps (18-134 13%; handicaps only 2-113 2%); Thursday (11-79 14%; Friday/Saturday only 9-168 5%)
Negatives: Non-Graded race (0-43 -£43)

ALAN KING

Aintree Festival winners: 10-77 (+£4)

Although Alan King failed to shine at the Cheltenham Festival in recent times, he gained compensation on Merseyside, especially with runners from Cheltenham. The majority of King’s big-race winners at this festival also came over hurdles.

King’s Cheltenham Festival winners here: 1-3 (+£5)
Cheltenham Festival runners-up here: 3-6 (+£3)
Cheltenham Festival thirds here: 1-10 (-£6)
Cheltenham Festival fourth or worse runners here: 3-22 (+£7)

Top races: 4yo Juveniles Hurdle (4 wins); Stayers Hurdle (3 wins); Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (2 wins); Melling Chase (2 wins); Mares’ Bumper (2 wins)
Positives: British and French-breds (10-54 +£28), Cheltenham Festival runners (8-41 +£9); officially rated 139 or higher (9-52 +£3)
Negatives: Grade 2/Grade 3 (1-33 -£25); 31 days or longer since last run (2-32 -£17)

COLIN TIZZARD

Aintree Festival winners: 12-67 (+£96)

Colin Tizzard’s record at this meeting caught fire in recent years, sending out 10 winners from 2016-2018 (10-31 +£85), compared to only two winners from 2009-2015. The fact Tizzard looks set to record a career best tally this jumps season is another nod towards keeping close track of his runners at Liverpool, with those he sends directly from Cheltenham of real note.

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)

Top races: Topham Chase (2 wins)
Positives: Cheltenham Festival last time (10-43 +£90); Grade 1 (8-25 +£40); Robbie Power (5-11 +£30)
Negatives: Non-Listed/Graded race last time; 1lb or higher than last time (1-17 -£16)

Willie Mullins

Aintree Festival winners: 8-91 (-£48)

Unlike the Cheltenham Festival, Willie Mullins was made to work for his winners at Aintree, possibly as it may come as an afterthought rather than a target. His record was patchy during the last 10 years, with just two winners from 2009-2015, prior to a burst of six winners at the 2016 festival, and then a return to a couple of blanks in 2017 and 2018. In other words, the jury remains out as to whether Mullins is a trainer to follow on Merseyside, and with an overall big level stakes loss, the advice is to remain cautious.

Mullins’s Cheltenham Festival winners here: 3-5 (-£1)
Cheltenham Festival runners-up here: 1-6 (-£2)
Cheltenham Festival thirds here: 2-6 (+£6)
Cheltenham Festival fourth or worse runners here: 2-34 (-£11)

Top races: Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (2 wins)
Positives: 2m-2m4f (8-39 +£4)
Negatives: Grade 3/Listed: 0-46 (-£46); Handicaps (1-42 -£25)

Nigel Twiston-Davies

Aintree Festival winners: 8-111 (-£52)

With two Grand National triumphs under his belt, Nigel Twiston-Davies is always a trainer to respect over the three days here, though it was in the non-handicaps in which seven of his eight Aintree winners struck since 2009 – Friday's Bumper proving particularly kind.

Twiston-Davies’s Cheltenham Festival winners here: 0-6 (-£6)
Cheltenham Festival runners-up here: 1-3 (+£1)
Cheltenham Festival thirds here: 1-6 (-£5)
Cheltenham Festival fourth or worse runners here: 4-55 (-£27)

Top races: Champion Bumper (4 wins); Aintree Hurdle (3 wins); Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (3 wins)
Positives: Non-handicaps (7-46 +£4); 14/1 or shorter (8-50 +£9)
Negatives: Handicaps (1-65 -£56); Grade 3/Listed (0-61)

Other Trainers To Note...

Philip Hobbs left Aintree with a winner in six of the last nine years, five of them making the top four at Cheltenham the outing beforehand, while Tom George also made a habit of visiting the Aintree winner’s enclosure with four winners from the last five festivals. Four of George’s winners were partnered by Paddy Brennan, the same number that arrived via the Cheltenham Festival (4-17 +£8).

Be Wary Of…

Dan Skelton: 0-38

JOCKEYS – THE BIG THREE

BARRY GERAGHTY (2009-2018)

Aintree Festival winners: 22-114 (+£15)

It might come as a surprise to find that Barry Geraghty ahead of Ruby Walsh at this festival, and the fact he returned a healthy level stakes in the process makes him a jockey to follow. If there were a simple set of rules in following Geraghty, then those that arrived from the Cheltenham Festival having been beaten 1l-15l gained compensation under Geraghty here to the tune of 12-32 (+£53).

Cheltenham Festival winners ridden by Geraghty here: 7-11 (+£3)
Cheltenham Festival 2nd & 3rd placed runners here: 6-15 (+£16)
Cheltenham Festival 4th or worse runners here: 7-44 (+£18)

Top races: Melling Chase (4 wins); Liverpool Hurdle (3 wins); Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (3 wins); Manifesto Novices Chase (3 wins); Topham Chase (3 wins)
Positives: Friday (10-49 +£43); 6yos (12-26 +£46); Cheltenham last time (20-70 +£37); Nicky Henderson (18-79 +£5)
Negatives: Listed (0-13 -£13)

RUBY WALSH

Aintree Festival winners: 15-102 (-£48)

Ruby Walsh certainly knows where the winning post is at Aintree having tasted Grand National success on two occasions, though in recent years it was fancied runners in non-handicaps where he performed best. Having blanked at this fixture in 2017 before being sidelined 12 months ago, Walsh will be keen to get back in the winner’s enclosure having partnered just one winner from 15 rides at Cheltenham last month.

Cheltenham Festival winners ridden by Walsh here: 6-10 (-£1)
Cheltenham Festival 2nd & 3rd placed runners here: 2-12 (-£4)
Cheltenham Festival 4th or worse runners here: 3-36 (-£17)

Top races: Aintree Hurdle (5 wins); Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (4 wins); Maghull Novices’ Chase (3 wins)
Positives: 11/2 or shorter (15-50 +£4)
Negatives: Handicaps (1-30)

RICHARD JOHNSON

Aintree Festival winners: 10-105 (+£27)

There weren’t many occasions Richard Johnson left Aintree without a winner, having tasted success at this meeting in eight of the last nine Grand National meetings, including a double 12 months ago. Both winners were also outside the Philip Hobbs yard for whom Johnson has long been associated – two of his last three winners at this meeting came for the Woollacott’s at 14/1 and 33/1.

Cheltenham Festival winners ridden by Johnson here: 0-4 (-£4)
Cheltenham Festival 2nd & 3rd placed runners here: 4-8 (+£19)
Cheltenham Festival 4th or worse runners here: 2-33 (-£14)

Top races: Top Novices’ Hurdle (5 wins); Grade 3 Handicap Chase 3m1f (4 wins); Mildmay Novices’ Chase (3 wins)
Positives: 19 runners or less (10-66 +£66); Novice events (5-23 +£40)
Negatives: Runners finishing fifth or worse last time (2-43 -£22)

Other Jockeys To Note...

While Paddy Brennan’s winners have slowed a touch here in recent years, bar a double in 2016, he is always a pilot to note on a fancied runner at 16/1 or shorter 6-23 (+£15). It’s also worth noting Dary Jacob on in-form runners that made the top four last time (6-41 +£32).

Britain v Ireland since 2009

With last month’s battle at Cheltenham between Britain and Ireland ending in a pulsating 14-14 draw, the rivalry now rolls onto Aintree where matters have remained more one-sided in favour of the hosts.

YearAintree Festival WinnersCheltenham Festival Winners
2019?Britain 14-14 Ireland
2018Britain 17-4 IrelandIreland 17-11 Britain
2017Britain 20-1 IrelandIreland 19-9 Britain
2016Britain 12-9 IrelandIreland 15-13 Britain
2015Britain 14-7 IrelandBritain 14-13 Ireland
2014Britain 18-3 IrelandBritain 15-12 Ireland
2013Britain 17-4 IrelandIreland 14-13 Britain
2012Britain 19-2 IrelandBritain 22-5 Ireland
2011Britain 17-4 IrelandBritain 14-13 Ireland
2010Britain 21-0 IrelandBritain 19-7 Ireland
2009Britain 19-2 IrelandBritain 17-9 Ireland

Such domination comes down to the fact the Irish favour preparing their big stars for Punchestown a few weeks after Aintree. That domination was very much in effect around 10 years ago when the Irish barely got a look-in at Aintree, and even experienced a blank in 2010. However, they recorded a couple of bold shows during the last five Aintree festivals, producing 24 winners since 2014 – double the total accumulated compared to 2009-2013.

SIRES

One of the keys to a trainer’s success at Aintree was having a knowledge of a horse’s breeding, as it can reveal whether they’ll be suited by certain conditions, such as ground, distance and track. With that in mind, the following list of sires to have produced numerous winners at Aintree highlights some names to look out for at this year’s festival.

Top sires at Aintree 2014-2019

SireW-R£12m-2m1f2m4f-2m6f3m-3m2f4m2f+
Oscar13-108-161-199-453-360-8
Kayf Tara12-108+226-331-345-360-5
Flemensfirth10-87+252-212-336-280-5
Milan9-67-12-102-154-331-9
Kings Theatre9-134-871-275-513-480-8
Presenting8-129-240-204-494-410-19
Definite Article7-27+311-64-142-60-1
Beneficial7-77+213-142-412-190-3
Old Vic5-41-40-12-113-250-4

Some familiar stallions make up the above list, especially over their preferred distances – for instance, Oscar’s progeny improved stepped up to 2m4f-2m6f, as was proven at last year’s festival when Finian’s Oscar took the Manifesto Novices’ Chase at 5/2. Oscar will be responsible for another batch of interesting runners this time around, with both Lake View Lad and Anibale Fly eyeing up the Grand National, while Paisley Park will look to follow-up his Stayers’ Hurdle victory at Cheltenham at a track where he won his only outing in a handicap back in October.

Elsewhere, the Trevor Hemmings-owned 8yo, Touch Kick, could be an interesting runner in the Topham Chase (2m5f). This improving son of Presenting didn’t see out the 3m2f trip in the Fulke Walwym/Kim Muir at Cheltenham last month (9th of 23), and will enjoy dropping back in trip.

Currently showing a level stakes profit at this track is Beneficial, who is also experiencing a terrific 2018/19 season courtesy of over 120 winners, while Flemensfirth continues to produce winners at Aintree…

Aintree last 12 months

Flemensfirth5-27+19
Oscar4-19-5
Getaway3-10+2
Martaline3-10+2
Kayf Tara3-14+11

With five winners here during the last 12 months, Flemensfirth’s 3m-3m1f runners are always worth a second look, returning a record of 6-28 (+£28). As for which stallions’ progeny won the major Graded races this season, then the following top five could again be amongst the winners.

Most Graded Winners 2018/19

Flemensfirth10-70-£23
Oscar10-50-£5
Voix Du Nord9-29+£7
Doctor Dino7-12+£28
Presenting7-48-£6

However, with ground conditions upon Merseyside still unknown, it’s worth knowing which of the leading Aintree sires produced improved strike-rates should the mud start to fly…

Ground (Jumps 2014-2019)

SireAll groundSoft/Heavy
Kings Theatre14%15%
Kayf Tara12%14%
Oscar11%13%
Flemensfirth10%12%

The flip side of the coin reveals that the following sires’ progeny could be more favoured if traditional, good ground awaits at Aintree…

SireAll groundGood
Old Vic11%14%
Presenting11%12%
Milan11%12%
Definite Article9%11%
Beneficial10%11%

The Aintree Leaderboard is also useful for when a runner is tackling a new trip, as the sire’s data could provide clues, both for and against, while another approach is looking at which trainers did well with specific sires.

Top Trainer/Sires 2010-2019 (All tracks)

Trainer/Sire/TripW-R£1
Nigel Twiston-Davies/Oscar/2m-2m1f5-12+49
Tom George/Milan/2m-2m1f5-13+39
Willie Mullins/Flemensfirth/2m-2m1f17-45+39
Paul Nolan/Kings Theatre/2m4f-2m4f6-25+35
Henry De Bromhead/Definite Article/2m1f5-12+30
Jonjo O’Neill/Flemensfirth/3m-3m1f11-46+27
Jonjo O’Neill/Milan/2m4f-2m5f9-34+26
Henry De Bromhead/Kay Tara/2m-2m1f13-58+24
Tom George/Oscar/2m-2m1f8-33+22
Dan Skelton/Presenting/2m4f-2m5f7-26+22
Miss E Lavelle/Flemensfirth/3m-3m1f7-26+21
Nicky Henderson/Oscar/2m-2m1f17-34+21
Nicky Henderson/Presenting/2m-2m1f7-26+21
Fergal O’Brien/Flemensfirth/2m-2m1f5-25+20
Willie Mullins/Oscar/2m-2m1f13-24+20

One interesting name is Willie Mullins, who is respected at the big meetings and struck twice this time last year with Relegate at 16/1 & 25/1 (Flemensfirth/2m-2m1f), along with True Self at 12/1 (Oscar/2m-2m1f).

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 quartet could be worth looking out for if turning up at Liverpool.

HorseWinsPlacedUnplacedEach-way
Ultragold220100%
Ballybolley21560%
Virgilio40450%
Eastlake21443%

(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).

PROFILING

Pointers From Cheltenham

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

YrCheltenhamAintreeGapAintree winners from Cheltenham£1
19Gd-soft/Soft?19 days?
18Heavy/SoftSoft19 days12-103 (12%)-14
17Gd-soft/GoodGd/Gd-soft19 days13-124 (9%)+9
16Gd-soft/GoodSoft19 days14-124 (11%)-18
15Gd-soft/SoftGd/Gd-soft27 days13-118 (11%)-30
14Gd-soft/GoodGd/Gd-soft18 days13-129 (10%)-32
13Soft/Good to softGd/Gd-soft20 days10-100 (10%)-1
12GoodGd/Gd-soft27 days11-94 (12%)-47
11Good/Gd to softGd/Gd-soft21 days10-109 (9%)+27
10Gd-soft/SoftGd/Gd-soft20 days13-113 (11%)+1
09Gd to softGd/Gd-soft20 days12-140 (9%)-45

The ground at both festivals remained fairly consistent down the years, bar last year which saw a mudbath at Cheltenham before soft ground at Aintree – only the second time at the Merseyside track during the last 10 years. In fact, it was only the second time the ground was testing at both tracks since 1989, the year Desert Orchid won the Gold Cup.

The form stood up that year despite “Dessie” falling in the Martell Cup, as 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. Last year, of the 27 runners who made the top three at Cheltenham and went onto race at Aintree, five triumphed on Merseyside and eight were placed.

With single-figure strike-rates for Cheltenham runners at Aintree in three of the four years from 2008-2011, double-figure strike-rates have now been achieved in six of the last seven years, suggesting Cheltenham form can be relied upon, especially with those coming via the following races:

Arkle Chase supplied 15 of the last 21 Maghull Novices’ Chase winners
Champion Chase supplied 14 of the last 21 Melling Chase winners
Triumph Hurdle supplied 11 of the last 16 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle winners
Stayers' Hurdle supplied 10 of the last 12 Liverpool Hurdle winners
Gold Cup supplied 10 of the last 15 Bowl Chase winners

There will be a number of strong candidates from the above Cheltenham events seeking Aintree glory, including Politologue, who finished runner-up in last month’s Champion Chase. Paul Nicholls’s runner finished fourth in last year’s Champion Chase before gaining compensation in the Melling Chase, and looks on target to win that event once more.

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 – as it is this year – bringing mixed results. However, with a total of 121 Aintree winners coming via the Cheltenham Festival since 2009, a closer look is required to highlight the areas of profit – handicaps or non-handicaps, hurdles or chases?

Aintree runners from Cheltenham 2009-2018


W-R%£1
Overall126-117711%-123
Non-handicaps91-58915%-104
Handicaps35-5886%-19




Chases63-61210%-107
Hurdles60-53811%-17
NHF (Bumper)3-2711%0




Down in class28-27310%+65
Up in class17-2876%-81




First at Cheltenham29-8833%+23
Second at Cheltenham23-10821%-19
Third at Cheltenham16-10016%+76
Fourth at Cheltenham11-9412%+10
Fifth to tenth at Cheltenham32-4108%-50
Eleventh or worse at Cheltenham5-2142%-98




Fell at Cheltenham2-504%-44
Unseated at Cheltenham4-2218%+12
Pulled up at Cheltenham2-783%-59

There are some informative pointers from above regarding Cheltenham Festival runners at Aintree, none more so than those that arrived bang in-form having made the top three at Cheltenham, as they struck here for a collective record of 68-296 (+£80) – the most high profile of those Tiger Roll, who won Cheltenham’s Cross Country Chase prior to landing the Grand National.

It’s also worth noting Cheltenham runners that were given an easier assignment at Aintree having dropped in class, while those that raced over 2m½f-2m1f at Prestbury Park (not 2m) and were beaten 1l-30l returned a very handsome record of 39-325 (+£161) at Aintree – Identity Thief the latest qualifier to score at 14/1 12 months ago.

Pace/Tactics

Aintree has long been viewed as a speedy track suiting those near the pace, but with only 13 front-runners winning from the last 105 races at this fixture, those tracking the pace or held up were more favoured.

Last five Grand National meetings

12 April 2018, Good to soft
TacticWinsNumber of runners per race
Led48, 13, 16, 27
Prominent/tracked leaders86, 6, 6, 10, 12, 16, 20, 38
Mid division/held up99, 9, 10, 13, 15, 19, 20, 20, 21
8-10 April 2017, Soft (good to soft)
TacticWinsNumber of runners per race
Led25, 22
Prominent/tracked leaders125, 6, 6, 9, 13, 14, 16, 18, 19, 22, 28, 29
Mid division/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/tracked leaders115, 6, 6, 9, 9, 12, 17, 19, 22, 22, 39
Mid division/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/tracked leaders86, 9, 10, 12, 19, 21, 29, 39
Mid division/held up106, 9, 10, 10, 11, 16, 17, 21, 21, 30
3-5 April 2014, Good (good to soft)
TacticWinsNumber of runners per race
Led121
Prominent/tracked leaders95, 6, 6, 7, 7, 10, 19, 22
Mid division/held up117, 10, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 22, 40

It’s worth noting that of the 34 races with 19 runners or more, only four fell to a front-runner, 16 went to a ‘tracker’, and 14 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 at the other end of the scale, just two of the 17 races featuring six runners or less went to a patiently-ridden winner (mid division/held up).

Handicaps

While Graded events provide plenty of punting opportunities at Aintree, handicaps allow punters the chance of nailing a juicy-priced winner. While such big-field events at festivals remain tough nuts to crack, the assistance of a few trends and stats can help point the way.

WeightW-R%£1
9st7lb-9st13lb4-617%-17
10st-10st7lb15-4843%-143
10st8lb-10st13lb19-4754%-135
11st8-7511%+163
11st1lb-11st7lb16-3874%-171
11st8lb-12st8-1266%+8
AgeW-R%£1
41-128%-6
54-1153%-39
617-2347%-23
79-2853%-170
814-2995%-100
911-2894%+100
107-2133%-119
117-1047%+120
12+0-570%-57
Distance move from LTOW-R%£1
Down 1.5f to 1m4f9-1905%-90
Same-down 1f29-3917%+107
Up 0.5f-3f7-3932%-281
Up 3.5f-4.5f16-1968%+168
Up 5f or further9-4172%-178
Official ratingW-R%£1
120-1293-1882%-135
130-13942-6716%+60
140-14917-5483%-154
150-1678-2014%-68
Track LTOW-R%£1
Sandown, Uttoxeter, Kelso, Stratford, Aintree13-1538%+283
Newbury, Newcastle, Haydock, Fairyhouse, Leopardstown, Ascot4-2891%-231

Some handy clues regarding handicaps can be seen above, with runners officially rated 130-139 coming out especially well – Jester Jet 20/1 (rated 133), Bentelimar 10/1 (rated 135) and Mr Big Shot 7/1 (138) the latest trio of big-priced winners from this range 12 months ago.

In fact, punters looking for a handicap system based on past results at this meeting might want to look for runners officially rated 130-139 carrying 10st8lb to 11st5lb that were beaten 1l or more last time as they returned 22 winners and 46 placed from 308 bets for an each-way profit of +£130.

BETTING & MARKET

Every major racing festival sees a traditional war between bookmakers and punters, and Aintree is no different, with blows being traded between the two rivals during the three days on Merseyside – the question is: who came out on top?

Bookie versus Punter at Aintree – Who’s On Top?

Clear or joint favouritesW-R%£1
Overall52-22124%-68
Non-handicaps46-14731%-33
Handicaps6-748%-35
Chases24-10822%-30
Hurdles27-9229%-20
Bumpers1-215%-18

Favourites

Clearly, the bookies emerged on top down the years, with favourite backers getting severely stung both in handicaps and bumpers. Even on the occasions when favourite backers did come out in front over the three days, it was only by a very small profit, as was witnessed 12 months ago when they showed a +£2 level stakes profit from 21 races. It was a similar story in 2013 (+£1) and 2012 (+£2), but either side of that saw seven losing years, at an average of -£10 level stakes per meeting.

However, for brave followers of the jolly seeking to wage war once more, then there are some clues that could point the way. For instance, favourites dropping in trip by a furlong or further from Cheltenham struck at 14-39 (+£4) since 2009, while favourites who won by a head, neck or 1l last time came in at 11-28 (+12).

It’s also worth noting that the going effected results, with favourites delivering on soft ground at 10-32 (£0), compared to 17-70 (-£19) on good to soft and 25-117 (-£48) on good ground – in short, the drier the ground, the worse favourites peformed.

Second favourites

Second favourite (incl. joint)W-R%£1
Overall35-22915%-35
Non-handicaps29-14620%-15
Handicaps7-838%-20
Chases19-11117%-14
Hurdles14-9814%-21
Bumpers3-2015%-1

With little value on offer via the favourite at Aintree, there was inevitably plenty of opportunities to be found via their deputy in the market – namely the second favourite. Indeed, by sticking with second favs priced 7/4 to 7/2 at this meeting returned 22-62 (+£24), with Finians Oscar (5/2), We Have A Dream (2/1) and Black Op (3/1) all hitting the target here 12 months ago.

Another pointer when contemplating backing the second fav is via their form last time out, with those who won or beaten 2l or less connecting on Merseyside at 20-92 (+£26).

Big-priced winners

The Aintree Festival’s flagship race is of course The Grand National, a race that for many across the country offers the chance of striking it rich via a big-priced winner. But, it isn’t just the National that offers such opportunities, as there are plenty of big prices available across the three days. Take both bumper events at the end of Friday and Saturday’s cards for instance, as they threw up double-figure winning odds of 66/1, 33/1, 28/1, 25/1, 25/1, 20/1, 20/1, 14/1, 14/1, 14/1, 12/1 during the last 10 years. In fact, £1 placed on every runner in the Friday/Saturday bumpers at 15/2 to 28/1 returned a blind profit of +£50.

PLACEPOT

If the prospect of finding winners amongst the numerous big-field events at Aintree appears daunting, then one alternative option could be the Placepot, especially as there were some tasty dividends down the years. The pick of the three days has to be the Friday, however, as it proved consistent in paying out a minimum of £100 in nine of the last 10 years.

Day two Placepot dividends (last 10 years)

2018: £145
2017: £205
2016: £9,947
2015: £359
2014: £386
2013: £117
2012: £33
2011: £250
2010: £1,066
2009: £3,818

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…

30 ran during the last 30 days (22%) – others were 13%
29 had four handicap hurdle runs or less (25%) – others were 11%
27 were officially rated 132-145 (20%) – others were 9-60 (15%)
21 arrived via the Cheltenham Festival
N Henderson had 6-22 placed; A King 5-6; J O’Neill 4-11

Placed runners breakdown of odds:
13/2 or shorter: 2-7
7/1 to 8/1: 10-28
9/1 to 16/1: 14-67
18/1 to 40/1: 13-89
50/1 or bigger: 1-23
Favourites & joint place record: 3-9

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…

27 won 1-3 hurdle races (UK only)
23 ran in a Graded race last time
21 were French or Irish-bred
17 were officially rated 144-158 (54%) – those lower were 19%
17 were 5yos (32%) – others were 22%
16 ran at Cheltenham last time (16-33)
N Henderson (6-14) & P Nicholls (3-8) had nine placed between them

Placed runners breakdown of odds:
9/2 or shorter: 13-20
5/1 to 12/1: 8-35
14/1 to 40/1: 7-30
50/1 or bigger: 0-18
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 149 or higher (47%) – those 148 were 25%
17 ran in a Grade 1 or Grade 2 last time (43%) – others were 26%
16 were upped in trip by 0.5f-1.5f to last time (46%); others were 28%
N Henderson had 4-8; P Nicholls 4-11; C Tizzard 3-4

Placed runners breakdown of odds:
4/6 to 9/4: 6-9
11/4 to 6/1: 12-25
7/1 to 10/1: 4-14
11/1 or bigger: 4-27
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
23 were 7-9yos
15 finished 1st or 2nd last time (14-27); those 3rd or worse were 13-59
13 were officially rated 166 or higher (13-21); those rated lower were 14-65
Jonjo O’Neill had 4-4 placed, C Tizzard was 3-3; P Nicholls was 3-10

Placed runners breakdown of odds:
10/3 or shorter: 8-11
7/2 to 15/2: 12-23
8/1 to 16/1: 7-33
20/1 or bigger: 0-19
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
31 were 8-10yo’s (16%); other ages were 10%
28 ran during the last 16-30 days (20%) – those 31 days or longer were 8%
N Henderson had 6-20 placed; P Bowen had 4-10, C Tizzard 4-9
Runners officially rated 145-159 were placed at 22% – those 144 or lower were 12%

Placed runners breakdown of odds:
8/1 or shorter: 2-17
9/1 to 20/1: 19-108
22/1 to 33/1: 15-86
40/1 or bigger: 4-75
Favourites & joint place record: 1-10

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 (29%) or Irish-bred (20%) runners; French were just 7%
23 were officially rated 135 or higher (23%) – others were 13%
22 were 6yos
20 won 50% or more of their UK hurdle outings (28%); others were 13%
20 arrived via Cheltenham (12), Newbury (5), Sandown (3)
N Henderson was 3-7

Placed runners breakdown of odds:
5/1 or shorter: 8-14
11/2 to 9/1: 10-35
10/1 to 14/1: 2-22
16/1 to 40/1: 9-50
50/1 or bigger: 1-28
Favourites place record: 7-10

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