The Grade Three Grand National Trial Chase is staged at Haydock racecourse each year and provides racing fans with further clues ahead of the Grand National. That said, the race is all but a trial in name as since 1980 we’ve not seen a winner of the Betfred Grand National Trial follow-up that season in the Aintree marathon – Suny Bay, the 1997 winner, did go onto finish second at Liverpool in the National. The 2005 winner, Forest Gunner, went onto run a respectable fifth, while in 2017 we saw the David Pipe-trained Vieux Lion Rouge win this trial before going onto finished a respectable sixth in the Grand National a few months later.
Last year (2018) we saw the Venetia Williams-trained Yala Enki win the race by a staggering 54 lengths to give the Williams yard their second win in the contest since 2014.
Here at JUICESTORM we look back at recent winners and gives you the key stats to take in the 2019 renewal – this year set to be run on Saturday February 16th.
Recent Haydock Grand National Trial Winners
2018 – YALA ENKI (8/1)
2017 – VIEUX LION ROUGE (8/1)
2016 – BISHOPS ROAD (13/2)
2015 – LIE FORRIT (8/1)
2014 – RIGADIN DE BEAUCHENE (16/1)
2013 – WELL REFRESHED (9/2 fav)
2012 – GILES CROSS (4/1 fav)
2011 – SILVER BY NATURE (10/1)
2010 – SILVER BY NATURE (7/1)
2009 – RAMBLING MINSTER (18/1)
2008 – MIKO DE BEAUCHENE (17/2)
2007 – HELTORNIC (12/1)
2006 – OSSMOSES (14/1)
2005 – FOREST GUNNER (12/1)
2004 – JURANCON II (10/1)
2003 – SHOTGUN WILLY (10/1)
Haydock Grand National Trial Betting Trends
16/16 – UK-based trained winners
16/16 – Had won between 2-4 times over fences (rules) before
14/16 – Had won over at least 3m (fences) before
13/16 – Finished in the top three last time out
13/16 – Had won just 2 or 3 times over fences (rules) before
13/16 – Aged 10 or younger
12/16 – Had raced within the last 7 weeks
12/16 – Aged 9 or younger
12/16 – Rated 135 or higher
11/16 – Came from outside the top 3 in the betting
11/16 – Finished in the top two last time out
10/16 – Carried 11-0 or less
9/16 – Returned a double-figure price in the betting
8/16 – Won last time out
7/16 – Unplaced favourites
7/16 – Winners that went onto run in that season’s Grand National (all unplaced)
6/16 – Irish-bred winners
4/16 – Winners that won by exactly 15 lengths
4/16 – Ran in the Welsh Grand National last time out
3/16 – Won with 11-12 in weight
3/16 – Finished 1st or 2nd in the Welsh Grand National last time out
3/16 – Trained by Lucinda Russell
2/16 – Winning favourites
2/16 – Trained by Venetia Williams
The average winning SP in the last 16 runnings is 10/1
February is always a bit of a funny month for the National Hunt season, with many trainers not wanting to risk their big names as the Cheltenham Festival looms. While the weather also has a habit of sticking its oar in at this time of the year- fingers crossed we don’t get another ‘Beast From The East’ descending on us.
So, yes, the excitement is building for Cheltenham next month, but we’ve also got one eye on the Grand National in April and with that in mind the Haydock Grand National Trial – run on Saturday 16th – is where we’re heading in this edition.
Run over 3m 4 ½f, this Grade Three Chase is actually a Grand National trial more in name rather than having a habit of producing the winner of the Mersreyside Marathon – we’ve yet to see a winner land both races! I guess, the closest we’ve come was when the mighty Red Rum took this race in 1975, but that was one of the years the National eluded the great horse.
In 1997, we did see Suny Bay take this prize and then finish second at Aintree in the National, while the 2005 winner – Forest Gunner – went onto run a respectable fifth later that year. Plus, in 2017 the David Pipe-trained Vieux Lion Rouge landed this trial before finishing sixth in the Grand National a few months later. So, even though we are still looking for the first horse to win both races, it’s still a contest that is worth looking back on in a few months.
So, what are the main trends to take into the race?
ALL of the last 16 winners have come from a UK-based stable, with the Irish tending to avoid having runners. The 2017 Grand National winning yard of Lucinda Russell is always one to note as they’ve had three winners since 2010, while the Venetia Williams camp have won two of the last five renewals, including last year’s running (Yala Enki), so anything they run should also be given a lot of respect.
It’s obvious that horses with proven winning form over at least 3m (chase) have a good record as stamina is a ‘must-have’ over this gruelling trip that is also often run in desperate ground. However, it’s slightly more interesting that 15 of the last 16 winners had only won between 2-4 times over fences before. This might suggest the up-and-coming younger staying horses are worth a second look.
This is also backed-up with 16 of the last 21 winners aged 9 or younger, while the last winner aged older than 11 was back in 1958! With that in mind, I think it’s safe to say we can rule out any old-timers that make the final entries. It’s actually horses aged 9 or younger that have the best record as they’ve won 12 of the last 16 runnings and this was backed-up last year with the 8 year-old Yala Enki going in.
Horses heading into the race off good recent runs is another thing to note, as 13 of the last 16 (81%) winners finished in the top three last time out. Plus, if you want to take this trend a bit further then 11 of the last 16 winners actually finished first or second in their most recent race.
Having had a recent run is another plus as 12 of the last 16 winners had raced in the last seven weeks. With the same amount rated 135 or higher this is something else to look out for, while with 69% of the last 16 winners coming from outside the top three in the betting market then don’t be afraid to look a bit further down the betting market.
With just two winning favourites in the last 16 years, then it’s been a race the bookmakers have been rubbing their hands with in recent years and with 56% of the last 16 winners returning a double-figure price then if do find the winner there is every chance you’ll be rewarded handsomely.
Over this 3m4f trip, then the weight carried also plays a significant part. In recent year’s we’ve seen 10 of the last 16 winners lump 11-0 or less to victory so this is not a bad cut-off point to have. Having said that, also be aware that we’ve seen 3 of the last 16 winners carry a massive 11st-12lbs to victory to suggest the classy top-weights shouldn’t be discounted either.
Horses that ran in the Welsh National last time out (27th Dec 18) are also worth noting with 4 of the last 16 winners of this race having contested that Chepstow contest in the same season – with 3 of the last 16 winners of this having actually finished first or second in that event.
Finally, we’ve only ever seen one ‘back-to-back’ winner of the race (Silver By Nature, 2010/11) so – if running – last year’s hero, Yala Enki, will be looking to improve on the record of current champions.
So, to conclude – if past runnings are anything to go on, we are unlikely to see the winner go onto success in the Aintree Grand National in a few months. The jury is also probably out on how long the race continues to have the tag ‘Grand National Trial’. However, it’s still a fascinating contest to watch, with plenty of old staying favourites likely to line-up again and you never know – the stats are always there to be shot at.
JUICESTORM VERDICT: A lot of old staying faces in the line-up here, including last year’s winner, Yala Enki. This Venetia Williams-trained 9 year-old was an easy 54 length winner 12 months ago, but it’s worth pointing out that came on heavy ground, that’s he’s unlikely to get here. He’s also 10lbs higher in the ratings so even though jockey Hugh Nugent takes off 7lbs he’s still 3lbs higher that last year too. Having said that, he seems to like it at Haydock, with form figures that read 5-3-1-4-1, so he’s still likely to be right in the mix. 12 of the last 16 winners were aged 9 or younger, so that’s a negative for Bishops Road, Carole’s Destrier, Vieux Lion Rouge, Robinsfirth and Wakanda. The consistent Impulsive Star was a nice winner of the Classic Chase at Warwick last time out but is up 6lbs for that so more is needed. The Pipe (Vieux Lion Rouge, 2017 winner) and Twiston-Davies (Ballyoptic and Ballyarthur) yards are both well-represented with two runners each, but the two I like there are RED INFANTRY and THE TWO AMIGOS. The first-named was a fair fifth in the Peter March here last time – only beaten 6 lengths. He’s off the same mark but the step up in trip looks to be in his favour. He’s a CD winner at the track and the first-time blinkers are also an interesting addition. The Two Amigos is an improving young staying chaser that won the Sussex National last time at Plumpton and should have more to come. He’s not the biggest but does seem to have a lot of stamina with his recent wins coming over 3m6f and 3m4f. He’s up 8lbs for the last of those wins, but if you include his point-to-point successes then he heads here having won 8 of this last 10 races!
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