Grand National 2021

08 Apr

After Covid forced the abandonment of last year’s Grand National it’s great to see National Hunt racing’s greatest spectacle back this weekend

As with previous years I’ve picked out the key stats which have helped to find the winner in the past and they can be seen in table form below – Age, Experience, Weight, Number of Runs etc all having a bearing

With the age factor it’s worth noting that while 8yos used to have a bit of a disadvantage there have now been 3 winners from that age group in recent years. It’s therefore worth bearing in mind that is less of a negative than it used to be

This could be to do with the fences getting easier – something that along with better ground would assist higher weighted horses.

Ground at the moment would appear to be Good to Soft at time of writing (Thursday afternoon) with watering being done to keep it at that kind of level. Soft ground looks highly unlikely this year

Onto this year’s field and here is the table with stats applied – and some extra comments for each runner

Magic of Light10st 13lbs103322Excellent 66/1 2nd in this race 2019 – until then had looked doubtful stayer. Below form in her last race at Cheltenham Festival 
Acapella Bourgeois10st 12lbs103322Front runner and 3rd behind Burrows Saint in 2019 Irish National 
Potters Corner10st 6lbs103322 Lots of solid stamina form in past but preparation this year has hardly been smooth and form level needs to pick up a lot
Cloth Cap10st 5lbs103322Scottish national performance in 2019 gives him the stamina nod here. Much improved this term with front running performances and officially a stone well in after his last win 
Yala Enki11st 3lbs92322Fell at course last time. Gets no respite from handicapper for consistency – soft ground would suit
Ballyoptic11st 1lb 92322Out of form this season and mark is high on what he has done. Has fallen twice over this course. 2nd in Scottish national 2018 being theonly  positive for him here
Takingrisks10st 7lbs93312Admirably tough 12yo. Winner of Scottish national in 2019 (Cloth cap 3rd). Highest ever mark here. Might need softer ground to exploit his stamina 
Lord Du Mesnil10st 6lbs93312Lots of stamina but all best form at Haydock and in soft ground
Lake View Lad11st83122Brian Hughes gave him great ride to win at course earlier in year – but fences were removed by low sun then and they were on Mildmay course. Stamina to prove here 
Burrows Saint10st 13lbs83302Irish national winner back in 2019 and obviously trained with this race in mind ever since. Not quite as experienced over fences as would be ideal and all form is on RH tracks. Age 8 isnt quite ideal but as a French bred that isnt so bad as they progress earlier
Talkischeap10st 12lbs83320Impressive winner of Whitbread/bet 365 Trophy in 2019 but yet to return to same level of form 
Anibale Fly10st 12lbs833205th and 4th here before off higher weight after good performances in Gold Cup. Form has dropped this season markedly 
Kimberlite Candy10st 10lb 83320One prep run not ideal. Has the back form to be considered but that was off much lower weights and not sure he is a 153 horse. May also need soft ground
Any Second Now10st 9lbs83122Ted Walsh often tries unconventional prep on shorter trip (Papillon/Seabass). Stamina is ? 
Jett10st 7lbs83122 Seems fully exposed. Main positive would be having the rider with best record over national fences on top
Minellacelebration10st 5lbs83122Has had wind surgery since last run. Unseated rider over course in December. Seems to be in grip of handicapper now with a 148 rating 
Some Neck (1st reserve)10st 1lbs83122Cross Country specialist now 
Alpha Des Obeaux10st 9lbs73022Form going downwards 
Shattered Love10st 7lbs73022Not as good as he was and all best form is at 2,5 miles 
Milan Native10st 6lbs73112Hard to fancy orecent form off this mark 
Discorama10st 6lbs73310Surprising to see he is still only 8. Stamina proven but prep has been far from ideal this season
Vieux Lion Rouge10st 5lbs73112No horse has more experience on these fences but he has failed for stamina every time in this race. If it were shorter he would be a player. Top 10 finish must be very likely though 
Cabaret Queen10st 5lbs73022Pulled up last time. Looks badly handicapped 
Sub Lieutenant10st 3lbs73112In veteran stage now and all best form at much shorter trips
Double Shuffle10st 2lbs73022two runs over course don’t inspire 
Blaklion10st 2lbs731124th in 2017 when gfavourite (looked to fail through stamina). Not shown anything like same level of form in last few years
Secret Reprieve (2nd reserve)10st 1lbs733-12Welsh national winner but he remains very inexperienced and likely too young for this race
Definitly Red11st 1lb62112Fancied for this race in previous years but form is on the wane now at age of 12. Bets chances appear to have gone 
Tout Est Permis10st 12lbs63012fell in last race – not ideal coming here. Stamina also a big ?
Mister Malarky10st 12lbs63012For horse who looks to have stamina it’s interesting to see he has never won beyong 3 miles which is negative 
Balko Des Flos10st 9lbs63-122Form going downwards 
Ok Corral10st 8lbs63120Fragile sort
Class Conti10st 6lbs63-122Stamina a big negative
Canelo10st 4lbs63012Held by Takingrisks on Doncaster form – and doesn’t have the proven stamina that one has for this test 
Give Me A Copper10st 4lbs63120Pulled up last time and no recent form to recommend 
Hogan’s Height10st 3lbs63120Has won over track but much shorter trip
Minella Times10st 3lbs53-112 Rachael Blackmore’s mount – this will ensure a popular pick but will keep price low. Stamina has to be a doubt
Ami Desbois10st 2lbs53020 Falls badly on two key stats
Chris’s Dream11st 7lbs40022Too many negative stats to consider
Bristol de Mai11st 10lbs30120Class horse but all best form comes at Haydock and in soft ground
The Long Mile10st 4lbs33-1-12Stamina and age stats totally against him
Farclas10st 3lbs33-1-12Previous Triumph Hurdle winner (like Tiger Roll)…but stamina and age stats all against him 
GRAND NATIONAL 2021       

This is how the points are given out:

Weight. ( W )
11 stone or less a big positive = 3pts
11st 1lb to 11st 6lb – less of chance but still not insurmountable (particularly on decent ground) = 2pts
Over 11st 6lbs = 0 pts (1 on good ground)
Stamina (S)
It may seem obvious but there was a train of thought once that 2.5 mile horses were ideal for this (largely stemming from Fred Rimell/Gay Trip victory). There is nothing to back this up nowadays.
A winner over more than 3 miles is necessary so we give 1pt for that
Not having won over at least 3 miles in hurdles or chases is such a big negative to me that it carries MINUS 1pt
Proven stamina in a competitive National like Handicap (3ml 4fur or more) =3pts
Age (and Chasing experience) (A)
9,10 or 11 is the desired age bracket to have here and gets 2pts.
Since the turn of century (and not counting Red Marauder’s heavy ground freak race) that covers all but one winner (Bindaree 8yo in 2002), and all but 5 winners since 1980.
Those 8yos that have prevailed did have chasing experience on their side so get 1 pt if they have had at least 10 runs over the big fences
Streetwise 12yos can also triumph occasionally but would need a previous run over the National fences to get 1pt
A 7yo hasn’t won since 1940 so that has to be a big negative and gets MINUS 1pt. There have been 30 to try in this millennium and the best was Big Fella Thanks with 6th place in 2009.
13 and 14yos don’t often run and their price would reflect that they are past their prime. No points for them but don’t be surprised with a top 10 finish as National veterans Swing Bill and Hello Bud have done in the last 3 years
(Vics Canvas since finished 3rd as 13yo and arguably an unlucky loser after atrocious mistake at Bechers first time round)
Runs This Season (R)
When you realise that none of the last 24 winners came into the race without having at least 3 runs it has to be important and so is given 2pts. A run since Christmas is also important so we’ll take off a point for any that haven’t
These I think are the key statistics for which to base a scoring system and I will apply to each horse below. A total score of 10 pts is possible for the ‘ideal stats fit’

We can see that 4 horses have the perfect fit from these rationale





From this list I must admit I find it hard to fancy the last two named on recent form. Magic of Light ran very poorly at Cheltenham and I am reluctant to back mares when they start to show a drop in form. She didn’t seem to enjoy being taken on in the lead there and she will get a lot more of that in this field. If she could replicate her 2019 second place she has every chance but I think she will struggle

Likewise, Potters Corner really hasn’t looked the same horse this season who previously displayed buckets of stamina to win Welsh and Midlands Grand Nationals. Christian Williams is a greta trainer but this would be a tour de force to get this one back – and softer ground would have undoubtedly been much better for him

This leaves us with two who I do like far more.

CLOTH CAP’s chance is obvious but the market knows that too with only around 4/1 on offer currently. I fully expect that to get a bit bigger come Friday night/Saturday morning to tempt in more money. His Scottish National 3rd in 2019 gives him the big stamina tick and his form this season has gone to a new level. His last win was so much of an improvement that if the handicapper had been able to adjust his weight he would be carrying a stone more here. Soft ground would be a negative for this one but the weather gods seem to be in his favour this year. Tom Scudamore has formed a great partnership with this horse this season and will never have a better chance to add to the Scudamore roll of honour in this race. His father Peter never managed to win but go back to 1959 and you will find grandfather Michael winning it on Oxo!

The negative (if there is one) is that he seems to like to front run and that means he’ll be right at the forefront of the traditional cavalry charge to the first fence. That’s when mistakes happen and I’ll be much happier when he has cleared a few as can see some early danger there. He has run in two similar first fence charge races without a problem (Hennessy Gold Cup/ladbroke Trophy and Scottish national) so fingers crossed he is streetwise to this

The last time I can remember a horse coming into this race so short and so well in was also a first fence victim – Double Thriller in 1999). Note that one drifted out to 7/1 on the day after being much shorter as the betting public considered him too short to bet

Fingers crossed he gets over the early obstacles and then gets into a nice rhythm up front – he’l be tough to beat if he does

ACAPELLA BOURGEOIS is a much better price and also a front runner (hopefully these two don’t take each other on and cut each other’s throats). I was slightly surprised to find him coming out as a perfect fit but had forgotten his excellent 3rd in 2019 Irish Grand National (behind Burrows saint). His defeat of Burrows Saint in February confirms his well being and he has the same mark here (so is also a few pounds well in). He is definitely an outsider to keep on side

Notes on all runners can be found on the table but three others of note to take out:

BURROWS SAINT (already mentioned) does have a lot of attributes needed but falls slightly short on age (as mentioned I think we can rule out that one – especially with early maturing French bred horses). His lack of chasing experience (only 9 runs) is a little more concerning – and with all his form on RH tracks we have another small seed of doubt

I have backed this one at bigger prices ante post and wouldn’t be surprised to see him win – he has looked such an obvious type since his Irish national win. However, on his form with Acapella Bourgeois on his last run there shouldn’t be the difference in price between them.

TAKINGRISKS would be a perfect fit if not for the fact he is now a 12yo and running off his highest ever mark. The 2019 Scottish National winner took his form to an even higher level last time and he certainly won’t be wanting for stamina. If anything he might have need slower ground to balance things out against some quicker types. Nicky Richards is not one to overrace his horses and he knows what is need to win this race.It may just be a step too far to win but I couldn’t put anyone off a small each ay bet on him with extra places being offered.

Lastly, there is no more experienced runner in this race over these fences than Vieux Lion Rouge. Stamina has just got in his way in the past but he’s won over the course twice over shorter trips. I can’t see him winning but if any firms offer Top 10 finish prices (and base them on outright odds) – he would be the one I would be most checking the price on

Suggestions from me then are:

CLOTH CAP (sorry not too original there)


Burrows Saint and Takingrisks wouldn’t be far behind and for those who like to back several in the race to consider

Note that SOME NECK and SECRET REPRIEVE are both reserves. Neither will get into the race unless another horse drops out before 1pm on Friday


Good luck with whatever you back – and let’s hope all the runners and riders come back safe this year


(For those wanting to experience the National fences before, Friday’s Topham Trophy over a shorter trip is an equally exciting race to watch. My shortlist here is:

 Huntsman Son (will love good ground – should get a hold up ride).

 Ravenhill Road (talented but injury prone family that I think also need good ground…this one has a lot of class when everything falls right for him). This stable with its showjumping background should have him primed for these fences

Storm Control.  Ran a great race at Cheltenham with some bold jumping frontrunning. Shorter trip here is no negative and if he jumps the same up front he will be a sight to watch here. Kerry Lee wouldn’t be running him unless she though he was over his Cheltenham exertions

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Posted by on April 8, 2021 in Uncategorized


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