There are eight significant factors or boxes that have to be ticked to identify potential winners of the Grand National. Very few horses meet all the criteria for Saturday’s race but one horse stands out. The Last Samuri has finished second in the most famous steeplechase in the world and the horse must be backed to win this year’s race because he is most suited to the conditions.
The Last Samuri is the obvious choice because the horse has the best profile in the context of these eight prerequisites for a National winner. The trends are taken from the last 20 Grand Nationals.
Starting Price: The average starting price of the winner is 24/1.
Age: The age range is from 8 to 12.
Weight: Winners have carried from 10 to 11 stone nine pounds.
Stamina: Most past winners had won over three miles or more.
Jumping: Proven jumping ability is important.
National Form: Performances in previous Nationals is key.
Spring Form: Spring horses excel.
Cheltenham Form: Horses that that run at the Festival have done well.
The Last Samuri can be backed at 18/1 and the 10-year-old has been allotted 11-07. The horse has proven stamina in staying chases and is a sound jumper. The selection has completed the course in the last two Nationals in the last two springs and finished third in the cross country race at the Cheltenham Festival last month. Other horses have better form and standout on a number of the criteria but The Last Samuri fits the bill most and can win the 2018 Grand National.
Jumping the last fence in the 2016 race The Last Samuri looked the most likely winner. Even half way up the punishing run-in there looked like only one winner. However, The Last Samuri was overhauled by Rule The World and had to settle for second place. A year later the horse never really got involved at the business end of the National and finished a remote 16th. It could be third time lucky this time.
The National is now more akin to a conditions handicap chase in which there are any number of potential winners. The inner material of the fences is softer than in the past so they are more forgiving. The weights are now suppressed to attract a better class of horse and it’s now not uncommon for Gold Cup horses to run. A greater range of horses can now win the race because many more now run off their true weight. Anibale Fly was third in this year’s Gold Cup and is a leading contender.
A women has never ridden the winner of the Grand National but there has been a market move on Katie Walsh’s mount. Baie Des Iles is only a seven-year-old but is proven on soft ground and is almost certain to stay. Any more rain would improve the horse’s chances and the weather forecast suggested a wet spell in the days before the race. The handicapper has given Walsh’s ride a chance. However, it will take an exceptional young horse to win the National and for that reason a female will have to wait another year to win the race.
The romantics would love to see Baie Des Iles win the National but the trends suggest it will be beyond the horse. All the key pointers indicate that The Last Samuri is the horse to back in this year’s Grand National.