How to Pick a Grand National Winner: Five Betting Strategies For The Aintree Showpiece

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Fact Check Icon Fact Checked byKevin TaylorGDC - Icon - Black - Info
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How to Pick a Grand National Winner: Five Betting Strategies For The Aintree Showpiece

The Grand National remains the biggest race of the entire year for both punters and betting sites.

To help you pick a winner in the iconic Aintree showpiece, we’ve listed five betting strategies below, informed by the strongest Grand National trends.

1. Only Strong Stayers & Sound Jumpers Need Apply

This may sound obvious but at over four miles and two furlongs in length, the Grand National is the longest race any horse is likely to run in its lifetime, so the ability to draw on stamina reserves is crucial.

Non-stayers don’t win Grand Nationals, so when you're browsing the odds at your favourite horse racing betting site, we advise you to focus on horses that have already excelled over distances of at least three miles.

The Grand National might not be the jumping test it once was, but it’s still a stiff examination of a horse’s ability to jump a steeplechase fence.

With that in mind, horses who have the letter ‘F’ (Fell) in their form figures should generally be avoided.

There will always be the odd exception to any rule but for the most part, you need a horse that has proved it can jump soundly in the heat of a big-field contest.

2. Prioritise Horses That Can Get Into a Rhythm on or Near The Pace

The Grand National has become a race in which it is very hard to come from a long way back.

The reasons for this vary but the nature of the fences and the amount of traffic mean that it’s hard for horses that have sat back to build the momentum required to close in on the leaders.  

Connections of Corach Rambler cottoned on to this factor in 2023 when he was ridden a lot closer to the pace than expected. He was also able to get into a good rhythm, something that is crucial in this unique race.  

The key here is to focus on horses that have the cruising speed to sit handy enough in these big-field races.

Before selecting your runner, we recommend watching videos of their previous runs.

You could also examine the ‘close-up’ comments available on sites like the Racing Post. These indicate where a horse was positioned during each race.


Read More: Get the latest Grand National odds for the big race


3. Don’t Dwell on Previous Winners

Before confirming your selection at your favourite betting app, consider the fact that previous winners have a poor record in this race.

Tiger Roll (2018 & 2019) is an obvious recent exception, but to put his achievement into context, he was the first back-to-back winner since Red Rum in 1973 and 1974.  

The reason? Well, as ever there are multiple factors at play... 

The main one is that Grand National winners nearly always have to try and win the race for a second time off a much higher mark than the previous year.

Luck also plays a huge part. So much needs to go right for a horse to win a Grand National, it would require an unusually large dollop of fortune for a horse to get the same run twice.

4. Weight Matters

Despite all the changes to the Grand National in recent years, it remains very difficult to carry a big weight to victory.

No topweight has won the National since Red Rum in 1974 and only two horses have carried more than 11st to victory in the last decade. The biggest weight carried to victory since 1974 is the 11st 9lb carried by Many Clouds in 2015.

Since the turn of the century, the National has been won by a horse carrying less than 11st a remarkable 16 times.

That tells us that it remains important to focus on runners in the bottom half of the handicap.


Read More: Get Grand National free bets for the Aintree showpiece


5. Steer Clear of Horses That Had a Hard Race at The Cheltenham Festival

Preparation is everything when it comes to winning a Grand National.

With that in mind, having a gruelling race less than a month before can often put paid to a horse’s chance of glory at Aintree.

For the most part, hard races at Cheltenham leave their mark on an Aintree contender. It’s a point that goes a long way to explaining why no horse has won the Gold Cup and Grand National in the same year since Golden Miller in 1934.

As with any rule, there will always be an exception, and we don’t have to look far to find one.

Corach Rambler didn’t have an easy time of it when beating Fastorslow in the 2023 Ultima Handicap Chase, but it didn’t stop him cruising to glory at Aintree the following month.

2024 Grand National: Which Horse Best Fits The Trends?

The standout trends candidate is VANILLIER, who ran so well to finish second 12 months ago.

He remains handily weighted (10st 11lb) despite a 4lb higher mark this time. He avoided Cheltenham and connections will surely look to ride him further forward this time given he was asked to make up so much ground last year.

We know he’s got the class and cruising speed to sit handy and he’s been trained to peak for this day. He has a massive chance.

Now you know how to pick a Grand National winner, don't forget to make use of free bets and other offers to boost your profits.

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