Grand National 2014: how to pick a winner according to Cambridge mathematician's formula

William Hartson has created a winning formula for which horse to back at the Aintree Grand National

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A Cambridge mathematician believes he has created a formula to predict the Grand National winner – and has backed the racehorse owned by Mike Tindell as the champion of this year's race.

William Hartson has revised a formula he initially devised for the Grand National last year and named 12-1 favourite Monbeg Dude as the horse he believes will win.

Mr Hartson, a former international chess champion, has been working on the formula for a year after betting company William Hill asked him to mathematically analyse the winners of the Grand National and select a champ with the best chances of emerging victorious.

“I’ve amended it this time to improve it because it didn’t quite give us a winner last time," he said, after incorrectly predicting that horse Seabass would win last year.

Mr Hartson explained: “Not knowing anything about horses, I started by looking at list of all of the winners of all of the Grand Nationals that have ever been run.

"I found certain patterns in the names of winning horses. Basically it boils down to one thing - well a couple of things maybe - which is that the winning horse ideally will begin with the letter M and have eight or 10 letters."

To calculate the winner, Mr Hartson scored factors including the bookies' odds, the horse's name, its age, the letters in the owner's name, and the letters and number of words in the horses' names. This year he also included the name of the horses' trainer.


For example, he pointed out that a jockey with a name beginning with K has never won the Grand National, a factor he believes may explain why he failed to predict the winner last year.

"The horse was ridden by Katie Walsh. It's because her name begins with K. She didn't stand a chance, poor thing."

“There’s one horse that fits the criteria better than anyone else, which is Monbeg Dude," he said. "It begins with M and has ten letters, so it’s perfect."