Home Horse Racing The 2017 Grand National – How To Pick Your Horse

The 2017 Grand National – How To Pick Your Horse


The racing calendar’s biggest event is almost upon us for another year. The 2017 Grand National starts at 5.15pm on Saturday 8th April; the one race that captures the public imagination more than any other. Millions across the UK will be tuning in to watch the forty-strong field competing and, as such, next to no one will be able to pick the winner. Funny how the one race we all huddle round a screen to watch every year also just happens to be the trickiest one to pick a winner in, eh? It’s almost as if the bookmakers planned it that way.

The famous Aintree course will be ready come Saturday afternoon, its thirty tricky fences standing proud. The jockeys will be atop their rides, in their varying but all absolutely ridiculous little silk outfits. The crowd will roar, the race will start, the horses will run and you’ll never see that tenner again. Still, there’s always a (slim) chance you might be able to pick out a winner, isn’t there? And maybe you can do so with us…

Picking the winner of the National ain’t easy. It’s not quite needle in a haystack territory, but it’s not far off. Here are your options: Try and study the form, trust a tipster, pick the horse with the daftest name, get behind the greys as they’re easiest to spot in the huddle of horsemeat, or just go for the nag with the longest odds. However you decide to go about it, here are some of the top GGs to pick from:

The Favourites

Vieux Lion Rouge – 10/1

Leading the betting is the winner of the Belcher Chase, David Pipe’s Vieux Lion Rouge (which we’re pretty sure means ‘look at my red lion‘ in French). Tom Scudamore will be in the hotseat and VLR has decent form, having already won the Grand National Trial this season. Fans of pathos and ‘a story’ needn’t dismiss the favourite winning as dull, though – Tom Scudamore’s jockey granddad Michael won the National on a horse called Oxo back in 1959. But will it be all gravy for Tom on Saturday?

Definitly Red – 11/1

Also tipped by many to win The World’s Greatest Steeplechase™ is a horse by the name of Definitly Red. Not to be confused with the blue-eyed soul band fronted by Mick Hucknall, this eight year-old won the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster earlier in the year and could well start the race as the favourite.

By the way – that’s their spelling, not ours. We know how to spell ‘definitely’. See?

Grey Horses

Saphir Du Rheu – 20/1

The best thing about backing one or all of the grey horses in the big race is that you don’t need to learn the colours or numbers or do any research – you just find out with horse is grey and lump on. The worst thing? Greys have a truly dreadful record in the National. In fact, only three have ever won, the last back in 2012 when Neptune Collanges sneaked it by a nose. Worse still? The ‘pick the greys’ tactic is popular and sees odds shorten on the day as lots of lazy people do it. So if this is your tactic? Best make your bet nice and early.

There are two grey horses running this year and Saphir Du Rheu looks the stronger of the pair. With Sam Twiston-Davies in the saddle, this Paul Nicholls-trained horse finished fifth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup recently.

Ziga Boy – Was 40/1…

Alan King’s Ziga Boy was the other grey due to take part in the race and came in at a tasty price. But he’s had to pull out due to injury. So you’re just left with Saphir if you’re a grey fan…

Funny Name Picks

Double Shuffle – 40/1

Unless you’re the lovechild of Derek Acorah and John McCririck (and we sincerely hope for your sake that you’re not), you’re unlikely to be able to pick the winner of the National. You can stare at a folded-up newspaper with a tiny blue pen in your mouth for as long as you like – it ain’t happening. You’re looking at a 40/1 shot. You may as well just pick one at random. And if you do – why not just opt for the funniest-sounding name? Daft monikers don’t make for better performances, but they can make you smile. Especially if they win.

Our favourite horse name this year? ‘Double Shuffle’. Partly because it makes us think of that portly kid off The Goonies, partly because it sounds like the evening plans of a fifteen year-old boy with the house to himself.

The Crafty Butcher – 50/1

‘The Crafty Butcher’ sounds like the best pub you’ve never been to. A mythical boozer where there are lock-ins every nights, £2 pints and they bring the ashtrays out at 10 o’clock. Also – it just sounds great, doesn’t it? Plus, we really enjoy the idea of a sneaky horse in a wicker hat selling sausages behind the counter at Asda.

The Romford Pele – 66/1

What’s not to love about a horse named after Ray Parlour, eh…?

The Longest Shot

Samingarry – 125/1

Alright, so we’re being a little unfair with this picture. Look, you don’t get a shot at the Grand National by being a donkey. You’ve got to show class during the season and Samingarry’s done that. But he goes into Saturday’s race as the rank outsider. So if you like an underdog/horse and you’re smart enough to realise that you’re not going to pick the winner anyway, why not keep your stake low and just plump for a quid each way on this long shot. He’s won 18% of every race he’s ever entered… Why not, eh?*

*Because he won’t win.

So there you have it. A few pointers on how to pick your horse for Saturday’s Grand National. Just remember – don’t come crying to us when you lose that tenner, alright?

Steve Charnock A freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card. Follow him on Twitter or follow him into the pub and buy him a drink.