Thursday, 1 November 2018

Horse Trainers and the Grand National - The Story of the Stats

Let's take a brief time out from the individual horse trainer bios for a moment and instead take a look at trainers in relation to their performance in the Grand National. We can then look to how this might translate into their prospects in the fast approaching 2019 race.

 When taking a look at trainers in relation to their Grand National record, it makes sense to start with the prolific Paul Nicholls on account that he's had an impressive 60 runners in the Grand National. That being the case he's only had one winner (and six placed) in this prestigious event so doesn't exactly have an enviable record. A trainer like Nigel Twiston-Davies has a little more substance to his Grand National credentials, with 41 runners and two winners (and three places).

In truth, no trainer in modern times has truly taken the Grand National by the scruff of the neck. There are just too many variables and participants to develop any level of consistency in the event no matter what they throw at it. Of course 'back in the day' things were different, Vincent O’Brien trained three successive winners - Early Mist (1953), Royal Tan (1954) and Quare Times (1955). All different horses too! If we're operating a pure numbers game, Fred Rimell and George Dockeray both hold the accolade of training four winners a piece, with Rimell winning with ESB (1956), Nicolaus Silver (1961), Gay Trip (1970) and Rag Trade (1976) and Dockeray with Lottery (1839), Jerry (1840), Gaylad (1842) and Miss Mowbray (1852). Ginger McCain won four times too, but with two horses, Red Rum (in 1973, 74 and 77) and Amberleigh House (2004).

So where does this leave us with the Grand National 2019 in mind? Well, in going by the stats we can say that George Elliot with a win and a place from just 13 runners, appears to have a more precise approach to the Grand National than some. Buoyed from last year's win on Tiger Roll - owned by Gigginstown House Stud (no strangers to winning) - I very much doubt they'll be able to resist the opportunity to for their horse to become the first back to back winner since Red Rum.

Willie Mullins is one to watch in 2019 too. It's been something of a slow burn for Mullins since he managed to win the Grand National with Hedgehunter in 2005, however many have an eye on Total Recall for the 2019 Aintree Grand National race. A Ladbrokes Gold Cup Trophy win in 2017 may provide a little confidence, and although his 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup effort suggests that he wasn't the finished article on the day, 2019 could be his year.

Last but not least, the aforementioned Nigel Twiston-Davies will be looking to make it win number three too (to add to his 1998 and 2002 wins). His entry, Blaklion, was favoured to do well in the 2018 race and was very unfortunate to fall at the first. We do have the 2017 win in the Becher Chase to offer a bit of reassurance. It's a demonstration that he's more than capable over the Aintree course and its jumps.

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