It is the day we have all been waiting for where 40 runners compete to win the John Smith Grand National at Aintree.

As always this race is a minefield when trying to find the winner and with 40 declared runners you could easily spend a whole day trying to analyse the race. We need to start by using trends in order to narrow down the field a bit to find runners which we want to look at more closely.

First of all I am going to star by removing any runner which has not won over 3 miles or longer before. No horse has bucked this trend since 1970 as stamina is a key ingredient in the race. This removes In Compliance, Majestic Concorde, Or Noir De Somoza, Piraya, Quolibet and Santa’s Son. That leaves us with 34 runners which we still need to trim down some what.

Next we are going to remove runners who have not won a Class 1 race, never run on Hurdles at Aintree and have fallen more than twice in their career when running Hurdles races on any course.

This leaves us with Tidal Bay, The Tother One, Royal Rosa, Quinz, Don’t Push It and Chief Dan George.  Six runners is much easier to deal with than 34. We are now going to take a look at these six. This doesn’t mean that these are our final six as we may bring some of the others back into the running later  but first we want to remove any runners we don’t like from these six.

Tidal Bay likes the going and race type and is a good performers. While he hasn’t been improving recently he also has not been in decline and he has every chance of taking home a position today if he runs to his best.

The Tother One is likely to find todays race just a bit too difficult. Without improving significantly there are other runners who are going to prefer the conditions.

Royal Rosa looks severely outclassed in this race. There has been no significant improvement over the last four races and being able to maintain the speed necessary over the distance and hurdles of this race is going to be unlikely.

While taking a class jump in this race, Quinz has been showing a steady improvement in his performances. He loves the going and race type but there is concern over him placing 16th at Aintree in his last race. He is well weighted today though and if he can continue to improve there may well be a place position for him.

There has been a lot of discussion about Don’t Push It with A P McCoy saddled on him. He certainly has the class to win this race and he is known to like the distance, stamina should be no problem. He has been declining in performance slightly over the last three races but he has certainly been warming up to this race. He won last year and based on trends this gives a warning bell as repeat successes are very rare, although not impossible. He is certainly one that needs to be considered in the betting but the odds on others are likely to be more attractive.

Chief Dan George has been in steady decline recently and his last good performance was against a significantly lower class affair. Aintree is not his favourite track and I think he may struggle in todays race.

From these runners we have Tidal Bay, Quinz and Don’t Push It as potential contenders. As we know the top eight in the market are strong runners and we are missing a number of them out and so we shall take a look at them now.

The Midnight Club has been going from strength to strength recently and certainly has the class to compete. Todays race type is a clear favourite for this runner the preference is for softer going though which may be a slight concern but there is definitely contender potential here.

Oscar Time has only ever won 1 hurdles race and that was in 2008 for an 8k purse. Of course he won the Cheltenham Cup just a few weeks ago and coming on to race here is a tough call. He finished 3rd next to The Midnight Club in the prep race at Fairyhouse though. The Grand National has been the sole aim of trainer M M Lynch this season and that suggests that he will go well although his early pace could prevent him from making the distance. Going well over three and a half miles indicates good things but the extra mile is a long distance. Certainly a runner with potential.

What A Friend loves the going, distance and track. All things in his favour and is another runner that is hard to ignore. Backstage on the other hand is popular because of his Point-to-Point victory recently. However I would like to see him improve more before placing money on him in this race.

Silver By Nature and Ballabriggs are the last two to look at in the market leaders. Silver By Nature has been racing at a steady level for a while but I think he lacks some of the class necessary in this race. However his excellent weighting my well make up for this and I expect him to run a big race. Ballabriggs has won 5 out of 7 races since 2009 but the class level of those races has not been high. He is definitely rapidly improving but has he got enough improvement in him to win the Grand National? It is certainly possible.

As you would expect most of the market leaders represent some chance in the race, this is part of what makes this the hardest race of the year to analyse. Our shortlist of potentials includes:

Tidal Bay


Don’t Push It

The Midnight Club

Oscar Time

What A Friend

Silver By Nature


A total of eight possible contenders, not bad from 40 runners. How do we bet them? There are so many markets on Betfair this year it gives us lots of potential. First of all note the 6TBP market which gives you six runners to place, there is even a 10TBP market where the odds are going to be lower but it could well be worth using in this ultra competitive race.

I think I would start for a dutch across all these runners, at the current odds this would give you just better than 1/1 should one of them come in which I think is pretty good going. I would consider a place bet in the 6TBP market for Tidal Bay, Silver By Nature, Quinz, What A Friend and Ballabriggs with a normal place bet on The Midnight Club and Oscar Time.

There is certainly going to be a lot of excitement in this years race and hopefully we can bring in some profit as well.

Michael Wilding


Michael Wilding is owner of Race Advisor a well respected horse racing site that aims to teach and educate as well as provide tips.