Grand National betting 2014: What impact does the handicap have when picking a winner?

A look at the impact of the weights carried by the field

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The Independent Online

"They don't give weight to donkeys".

Another oft used racing term, which is factually correct but patently useless and merely reminds us that, in a handicap, the best horses carry more weight than those considered to be their inferiors. 

You would think that carrying extra weight over close to four and a half miles would be a real negative but history shows us a massive variety of weight carrying performances. Though since the end of the war it has to be said only six winners have carried more than eleven stone five and two of those were the legendary Red Rum!

If you equate it to carrying a rucksack, when running 100 metres it would be fine but the marathon would be a whole new ball game!

Using the last 25-years as a realistic benchmark it does look as though the fences are a little easier resulting in more high class entries and with the exception of Bobbyjo in 1999, nothing has won from "out of the handicap"  - these are horses who are allocated a weight of less than ten stone BUT have to carry ten stone as that is the minimum racing weight, i.e. they have more weight than their official rating warrants. 

To use that to our advantage we need to assume that top weight Tidal Bay will take his place at the head of affairs, in which case we can rule out a list of runners in Night In Milan, Saint Are, Tranquil Sea, Alfie Sherrin, Court By Surprise, There's No Panic, Wyck Hill, Baile Anrai, Gullible Gordon, Quinz, Any Currency, Storm Survivor, and Victrix Gale.

That leaves just 28 runners left to work on tomorrow when we will look at both the going and the jockeys and trainers to see if we can narrow it down even further - this is getting very interesting.

See how the field was narrowed down before today - by age and experience - and two-and-a-half mile specialists.