This weekend sees one of the biggest races of the year take place at Aintree in Liverpool as a total of 40 runners and riders will start the 2019 Grand National. This year, Tiger Roll will be back to try and become just the fifth horse in the races long and illustrious history to claim back-to-back victories, in doing so becoming the first since the legendary Red Rum to achieve the feat.
However with the likes of Rathvinden, Anibale Fly, Vintage Clouds, Pleasant Company, Lake View Lad, Step Back and Rock the Kasbah also in the race, as well as a number of decent mid-priced runners that are solid each way options, it promises to be an exciting race and a real test of the horses and jockeys skill and fortitude.
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We will begin our preview of the race with some facts and figures, incredible stories and horses from years past, as well as information about the famous Aintree course and its iconic fences. We will then look at the main contenders for this years race before giving you our tip on who we think is worth backing to win and an outside bet who stands a solid each-way chance.
Grand National Facts and Figures
The first running of the race occurred in 1839 and the winner of the race was an aptly named horse called Lottery. Over the years, very few horses have won the race more than once and fewer still have managed to land back-to-back victories in what is the most demanding of races.
Only four horses have ever won back to back races. The first was Abd-El-Kader who achieved his successes in 1850 and 1851. Twenty years after Abd-El-Kader’s first win, The Colonel completed his own double success with victory in the 1869 and 1870 races.
There would then be a long break until 1935 before the third horse won back to back, Reyoldstown, although in 1897 and 1899 Manifesto won the race twice, but those two wins were punctuated by a victory in the 1898 race by Drogheda.
The next back to back winner would not come until the 1970s and it was Grand National legend Red Rum that landed the wins, taking first place in 1973 and 1974. Red Rum’s story in the national is unsurpassed as after those two victories, he finished second in both 1975 and 1976, but then produced one of the most sensational runs ever witnessed to claim his third Grand National victory in 1977. He remains the only horse to have won the race three times and his ashes are buried, appropriately, at the finishing line at his beloved Aintree.
Tiger Roll’s victory in 2018 now means that with him being the hot favourite for 2019, the Gigginstown House Stud runner could be just the fifth horse in the races history to claim back to back wins, although the odds seem stacked against him doing so if you go by the history of the race.
Other interesting National facts and figures include:-
- Although runners are now limited to 40 in the race, that wasn’t always the case. In 1929 a staggering 66 runners started the race, a record which will never likely be surpassed.
- In contrast, just ten horses competed in the 1883 race.
- Just finishing the race is a victory of sorts for many, in 1928 just two of the horses that started the race managed to complete it, the winner, Tipperary Tim, came in at 100/1.
- The most horses to ever finish the Grand National is 23, and that occurred back in 1984.
- Mr Frisk still holds the record for the fastest ever time to win the Grand National in 8 minutes, 47.8 seconds which he set when winning in 1990. In contrast, the first Grand National was won by Lottery in a time of 14 minutes and 53 seconds, more than six minutes slower.
- Only one other horse has won the race in less than 9 minutes, Many Clouds who was the 25/1 winner back in 2015.
- The lowest priced favourite to win the race was Poethlyn in 1919, who started the race as the 11/4 favourite.
- The oldest horse to win the race was 15-year-old Peter Simple who won in 1853.
- Only three grey-coloured horses have ever won the race, the last being Neptune Collonges who won back in 2012.
- Male horses have dominated the race in recent years, the last female horse to win was the mare Nickel Coin who won the race in 1951.
- The only jockey in the field to have won the race twice is Ruby Walsh, who won on Papillon in 2000 and then repeated that success in 2005 on Hedgehunter.
- Three of the last four Grand National Winners have been eight years old. Prior to that between 2012 and 2014, every winner of the race was 11 years old. Every winner since 1940 has been aged between 8 and 12 years of age.
- There have been several 100/1 winners of the race including Mon Mome in 2009, Foinavon in 1967 and Caughoo in 1947.
Grand National 2019 Tips
Although the final 40 runners and riders have not yet been officially confirmed at the time of writing (and won’t be until 48-hours before the race), it seems that Tiger Roll is certain to start as one of the shortest priced favourites in recent years. The last favourite or joint-favourite to win the race was Don’t Push It in 2010, so a favourite winning is certainly overdue.
Of the field, Tiger Roll is the class act in terms of previous form at Aintree, form coming into the meeting and the simple fact that the Gordon Elliott trained mount is a previous winner around these fences. That experience can prove to be a huge advantage, if the horse can reproduce the goods on the day.
I think Tiger Roll is the only sensible option to back for the outright winner in this race but there are a number of good options for each way bets which can still offer a decent return. Of the each way options I think Jury Duty at 28/1, Minella Rocco at 25./1 and lastly Ballyoptic at 33/1 all have a chance of going well and perhaps nabbing a place in the top five.