One of the most notable characteristics of the Grand National course is the Grand National fences. The Grand National runners will face thirty fences in total if they complete the course and many punters looking for a safer bet on the Grand National this week might want to know which horses have faced the Grand National fences before and which of those have either run well or poorly over the huge obstacles. Backing a horse that is proven over the Grand National fences certainly can cut down the risk of a bet but some punters prefer to back a horse that is having a first run over the Grand National course. Which horses are the best bets?
Five races each year are run over the Grand National fences. There is of course the Grand National in April each year and two other races are run over the Grand National fences at the Grand National meeting, the Thursday before the Grand National sees the running of the Fox Hunters Chase whilst on the Friday there is the Topham Chase. At the November meeting at Aintree there are two races run over these unique fences, there is the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase and also the Becher Handicap Chase and it is the latter that tends to be the most recognised trial for the Grand National.
Silver Birch was the last horse to win the Becher Chase before winning the Grand National, he won the Becher Chase in 2004 but after some problems and a change of yard it wasn’t until 2007 that he actually won the Grand National. The 2003 Becher Chase was particularly informative for finding the 2004 Grand National winner. Amberleigh House was beaten by a short head by Clan Royal in the Becher Chase and then he reversed that form when beating Clan Royal into second in the Grand National later that season. Despite only finishing second in that season’s Becher Chase, Amberleigh House was also a previous winner of the Becher having won the race back in 2001. Recent Becher Chase winners Vic Venturi and Black Apalachi have also run well in Grand Nationals having fallen or unseated late on in the race when still in contention and it is worth noting that both those horses could run again this year. This season’s Becher Chase winner was West End Rocker (by 22 lengths) and he has been very well backed for the race this week and could even go off as favourite on Saturday.
A total of seven out of twelve Grand National winners this century had previous experience of the Grand National fences and five of those had that experience courtesy of the previous year’s National, meaning it could pay to back horses who ran in last year’s race with almost half of the recent winners running the year before. Those winners include Mon Mome who won at 100/1 in 2009 just a year after finishing a well beaten tenth in the race. The only other winner to have run the year before that finished the race twelve months earlier was Amberleigh House in 2004, he came third in 2003 and when he won the race he was having his seventh race over the Grand National fences, a clear indication that you can’t have too much Grand National fence experience.
That means that three other recent Grand National winners failed to complete the course the year before. Silver Birch, Hedgehunter and Red Marauder, who won at 33/1 in 2007, 7/1 in 2005 and 33/1 in 2001 respectively. All fell the previous year and if looking for horses who fell last year attentions could turn to Killyglen, Calgary Bay, Becauseicouldntsee and Arbor Supreme. It should also be noted that the well fancied West End Rocker and also Vic Venturi (both previous Becher Chase winners) were brought down last year so they should also be considered. The two winners of the Grand National this century having their first run in the race but with previous experience over the fences were Montys Pass (won at 16/1 in 2003) and Bindaree (won at 20/1 in 2002) had both run well in the previous season’s Topham Chase (second and fourth respectively). The Topham Chase has been won by Always Waining for the past two years whilst Swing Bill and Shakalakaboomboom also run well enough in that race last year (fifth and seventh respectively). This site has a handy drop down you can use to filter horses by past form.
Finally, perhaps the horse with Grand National fence experience with the worst chance of winning could be the previous year’s winner bizarrely enough. The last horse to win more than one Grand National was the great Red Rum back in 1977, that is a major negative for the chances of Ballabriggs who is one of the favourites this year. Go to Grand-National-Guide.co.uk for tips on which Grand National Runners with past form are the best bets this year.
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