The Nation loves the race not just because of its history or the great spectacle of 40 steeplechasers setting off to tackle Aintree’s fearsome fences. It is also regarded as something of a lottery, a chance to win a few pounds in a once-a-year flutter. But for many serious punters it is still worth spending the time studying the race from every angle to try to increase your chances of making a profit.

There are many areas of study that help to build up a “profile” for a horse that will have a very good statistical chance of emerging as the winner. A few years ago the best starting point to study a Grand National betting strategy would be to look at the previous year’s running. Many horses take excellent form into the National but simply do not take the course so proven Aintree form would be a big advantage. With gradual changes to the course and the severity of the fences, more meetings being staged at Aintree through the winter and the handicapper taking note of “The Aintree factor” this element has been significantly reduced.

In spite of the changes the age of recent winners suggests that an experienced jumper of nine years or upwards is still more likely to win than a younger horse just out of the novice stage. Whether this will change with the emergence of more precocious foreign-bred horses remains to be seen.

Stamina remains as important as it always was with no recent winners having failed to win over a distance of 3 miles or beyond prior to Aintree. With track records being broken and easier fences to negotiate you would think this would impact on the need for stamina but there is no evidence of this happening to date.

Equally, a good reliable jumper is still a far better bet than a talented but erratic chaser. The first circuit of the race is invariably run at a fast pace so the need to jump consistently well is paramount. Another key factor is weight. In recent years the handicap has been more tightly compressed, partly due to the lack of genuine Gold Cup horses topping the weights. You would not want your selection to be carrying more than it’s allotted weight by being out of the handicap proper, but those nearer the top of the weights are being given more chance by this even spread.

If you intend to follow the ante-post market for the Grand National in 2013 you should keep all of these factors in mind and take note of any comments coming from the stable as the season develops. Whilst it will never be an exact science, it can certainly be fun and hopefully rewarding to study the race from an historical viewpoint.

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