Grand National Trials
The Grand National is notoriously difficult for punters to pick a winner for due to its unpredictable nature but there are certain pointers that people should be looking for, and one of those is to keep a close eye on the trial races that take place throughout the season. There are certain races that take place sporadically that can give punters those vital little hints which may make all the difference come April for National day.
One of the best trials for the Grand National in recent years has been the Becher Chase which takes place each November and is the closest thing to a Grand National rehearsal that exists currently. This is because the race takes place at Aintree itself using the Grand National fences over 3m 2f which means that any horse that runs well in the Becher Chase will shoot to the top of the Grand National Betting.
2015 Becher Chase Winner - Highland Lodge
Punters should be looking for horses that jump the fences well and look as though they have plenty more in the tank which they will need for the 4m plus trip of the Grand National, horses that do not win the race but look to be staying well are always good shouts as well as the winner of the race of course. In recent years the likes of Silver Birch, Amberleigh House and Earth Summit have all won the Becher Chase and gone onto win the National although not necessarily in the same season.
Troytown Handicap Chase
The Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan is another crucial Grand National trial in Ireland and it is always worth watching as we get the chance to see potential Aintree hopefuls fairly early on in the season. We always see some of the best stayers in Ireland at Navan in November and we are expecting the same this season with all the top trainers eager to get a run into their contenders.
2014 Troytown Handicap Chase Winner - Balbriggan
Hennessy Gold Cup - Cheltenham Gold Cup
Another trial worth considering is the Hennessy Gold Cup which takes place at Newbury in November and is often the race that potential National horses start their campaign off in. The race itself is run over 3m 2.5f which means punters should once again be looking for the horses with stamina to spare when they cross the line, and not particularly looking for the winner but those who look to have another mile in their legs. History shows that National winners who have run in the Hennessy tend to be placed at Newbury rather than win so that is always worth punters keeping an eye on when making their National selections.
2015 Hennessy Gold Cup Winner - Smad Place
The Welsh Grand National
We often see some of the runners in the Welsh Grand National head to Aintree for a crack at the big one and there are sure to be a few runners to watch out for at Chepstow. It is always a tough slog around Chepstow at Christmas so any horse that stays well in the Welsh National has to have a chance of running over further at Aintree. In recent years we have seen both Bindaree and Silver Birch win the Welsh Grand National before heading to Aintree to win the big one.
2015 Welsh Grand National Winner - Mountainous
Haydock Grand National Trial
The Haydock Grand National Trial is always a fascinating one for punters as it falls in February with very little time before the big race at Aintree. The race will take place after the Grand National Weights are announced meaning trainers can run their horses without fear of a hike from the handicapper.
2016 Haydock Grand National Trial Winner - Bishops Road
The Bobbyjo Chase is the key Grand National Trial in Ireland with the race held in Fairyhouse in February, the timing of the race a couple of months before the Grand National makes it an ideal tune up for connections as they look to get their horses to Aintree in top condition. The race is run over 3 mile 1 furlong and a good round of jumping will see their odds for the Grand National slashed by the major bookmakers. The 2011 race will no doubt be hugely competitive as the top Irish Trainers take their horses to Fairyhouse for the Bobbyjo Chase; the race is of course named after the famous Grand National winner from 1999.
2016 Bobbyjo Chase Winner - Boston Bob