The Grand National is the most famous steeplechase in the world and the arguably the most iconic because of the unique nature of the race. The atmosphere on the track at Aintree near Liverpool is enhanced by the fact that the start and finish are both close to the stands. Grand National Day at Aintree is a true sporting occasion and before the race a famous opera star sings the National Anthem. The National is known as the People’s Race because it attracts once a year punters and by far the biggest global television audience for a horse racing occasion.
The Grand National is unique in several ways but the fences are something that sets the race apart. Fences on park courses like Cheltenham and the Mildmay Course at Aintree have the distinctive black appearance with the white rail. The Grand National fences are made of spruce so are dark green. When horses hot a fence some of the spruce comes away and is strewn across the course. One of the great images is the damage done to the fences after up to 40 horses have tried to clear them. On the second circuit the course can look like a battle field.
You know the race is something special when some of the fences have their own name. There are 30 obstacles to be jumped over the two circuits, 16 on the first circuit and 14 on the second. The Chair and Water Jump are the only fences that have to be negotiated once. Becher’s Brook and Valentines are other fences that have names. The Grand National track goes across the Melling Road which is a quiet suburban street on 364 days of the year. One of the most spectacular sights in sport is the run to the first by 40 horses who have been primed for this big moment.
There are many Grand National systems, some of which are proven and others that have no grounds for worth following. The most common type of system eliminates runners based on historical trends and the nature of the race. A system that has produced good results in the past uses the following criteria to eliminate horses and produce a short list of potential winners of the Grand National:
- Won a steeplechase or hurdle race over three miles and two furlongs or more.
- Two years experience in chasing.
- Won a race this season.
- Not fallen during the current season.
- Does not wear blinkers.
- Four runs or less spread out over the season.
- British or Irish trained horse with experience of British racing.
- Horse running of the true weight.
The following horses from the top 25 in the betting qualify as leading contenders as they match each of the qualifying criteria:
Rock The Kasbah
Tiger Roll’s name continues to appear and the horse is by far the most likely winner of the 2019 Grand National. However, at the odds Rathvinden and Rock The Kasbah are the horses to back based on the qualifying criteria. Rathvinden won the Grade 3 Bobbyjo Chase over three miles and one furlong at Fairyhouse in February and that race is a recognised Grand National trial. However, Rock The Kasbah won a handicap chase at Cheltenham over three miles three and a half furlongs last November. The horse carried 10-13 and is aged 9. Significantly similar ratings have also highlighted ROCK THE KASBAH so this is the horse to back to win the 2019 Grand National.