One of the feature races of the National Hunt season, the Grand National is a race that gets the whole world talking and is the one race that all jockeys, trainers and owners want to win. Grand National winners join an elite group of horses who have overcome the extreme stamina test, with many of the bigger trainers still yet to stamp their name on the prize. In this article we’ll be going through the previous year’s Grand National winners to show you just what it takes to win a National, as the horses listed may not have the profiles you’d expect.
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Grand National Winner 2016 – Rule The World
“The horse who’s never previously won a race over fences” is perhaps not the phrase you would have thought you’d be hearing about a Grand National winner, but was completely correct about Mouse Morris’ Rule The World. Going into the Grand National, Rule The World was zero from thirteen over fences and although he’d gone close on a number of occasions, it’s rare occurrence for a Grand National winner. Off a weight of 10st 8lb, David Mullins’ mount gave him a good sit throughout and despite a blunder four out, he came home much the strongest to provide the nineteen year old with a dream first ride. It was quite the surprise at odds of 33/1 and although he’d shown stamina in some races around three miles, he didn’t look the likeliest stayer. Nevertheless, those narrow losses had clearly come back to help the nine year old as his handicap mark remained low enough so that he could be very competitive in the race, swooping on by on his preferred ground to stamp his name as the Grand National winner 2016.
Grand National Results 2016 – 1st Rule The World (33/1) 2nd The Last Samurai 3rd Vics Canvas (100/1) 4th Gilgamboa (28/1) 5th Goonyella (12/1)
2015 – Many Clouds
Writing about the brave, gallant and brilliant Many Clouds certainly is difficult now after his passing, pushing Thistlecrack past his limit in the Cotswold Chase on his final start, but it’s certainly amazing to look back on this fantastic weight carrying performance. No horse since Red Rum in 1977 had carried 11st 8lb or higher to victory in the Grand National, so when Many Clouds had a weight of 11st 9lb to carry in the 2015 renewal, enthusiasm was tempered for him. Going off at a 25/1 starting price, he stayed prominent throughout before being handed the lead with five to go, holding on well to become the Grand National winner 2015. This performance will be synonymous in Grand National history and it’s not hard to see why, as you’ll likely be waiting a good while until you see another weight carrying performance like this by a Grand National winner.
Grand National Results 2015 – 1st Many Clouds (25/1) 2nd Saint Are (25/1) 3rd Monbeg Dude (40/1) 4th Alvarado (20/1) 5th Shutthefrontdoor (6/1F)
2014 – Pineau De Re
This renewal was certainly a messy one with fourteen horses either falling or unseating their riders, thankfully though there were no fatalities which is the main thing. He finished his preparation for the race over timber at the Cheltenham Festival, coming home with a rattle in the Pertemps Final to finish third. Carrying a weight of 10st 6lb for the Aintree showpiece, he stormed away from the brave Balthazar King to win the 2014 renewal for Dr Richard Newland and Leighton Aspell, with those two away and clear of the remainder. Eighteen horses made it to the finish with Double Seven, Alvarado and Rocky Creek rounding out the places.
Grand National Results 2014 – 1st Pineau De Re (25/1) 2nd Balthazar King (14/1) 3rd Double Seven (10/1 JF) 4th Alvarado (33/1) 5th Rocky Creek (16/1)
Grand National Winners Analysis
Grand National winners are an elite group of horses and quality alone is certainly not enough to win the day in a race like this. Take Silviniaco Conti for example, winner of the King George VI Chase and multiple other Grade 1s. He routed the Ascot Chase field on his preparation run for the race, taking the Grade 1 prize by twenty lengths, but pulled up in the National after some poor jumps. Conti will always be remembered as a very smart chaser, but as previously mentioned, no matter how good you are, to be a Grand National winner you need more than just star quality and weight is a huge problem.
To join the Grand National winners list, you need lots of factors to go your way and that all begins at the weights announcement. Since 1980, only nine horses have carried a weight of eleven stone or more to victory in the big race, so the quality horses do tend to struggle. That’s not to say that the Grand National winners aren’t very good horses because they clearly are, but the higher rated horses are far more unlikely to win due to their weight. Since 2008, five horses have carried eleven stone or more to victory but you still don’t want to be lumbered with a big weight in a race like this. The main thing you need above anything is luck in running, no matter how much stamina you have, if you don’t have an easy passage, you just aren’t going to win the race. Inevitably, there will be fallers and if you’re behind one, then your race is effectively over if you cannot avoid them. It goes without saying the biggest factor is of course stamina, horses need to be able to keep up a gallop for nearly four and a half miles; that isn’t easy for the best of horses.
Our Aintree Grand National tip will be available soon, but we have a write up on all the key runners for the 2017 Grand National on site to view now, which gives you all the key statistics in choosing which horse will join the illustrious role of honour. Along with those statistics, we also have a brief write up for each runner, detailing what does and doesn’t make them the fit for the Grand National.