There is only 5 days to go before what is in my opinion the worlds greatest horse race the 2013 running of the Grand National and later in the week I will go through all 40 runners for this years race but today I am going to take a look at recent winners of the race that will hopefully give you a good idea of the type of horse you are looking for when it comes picking a horse for the race.
I certainly cannot give you the winner but what this look at previous winners will do is by looking at what quality's you need to look for in a Grand National horse and that after reading this you can discard thous horses that don't look suitable for the race and hopefully narrow the field down to more realistic number of contenders.
2012 NEPTUNE COLLONGES 11yo 11st 6pds
The grey Neptune Collonges was running in his final race when winning last year's National and he had demonstrated on his previous start when staying to finish a close 2nd carrying top weight in a high class handicap over 3m4f that the this trip had the potential to bring out the best of him. He was also 6th when giving 2 stone to almost the entire field in the previous years Scottish National over 4m1f giving further evidence to the bottomless stamina needed for the Grand National.
A very assured jumper with plenty of experience which stood him on good steed when having horses fall in front of him he was also good enough at his peak to finish 3rd and 4th in Cheltenham Gold Cup as well as win 3 grade 1 chases in Ireland. Despite his big weight he was thrown in on his best form and gained a memorable victory when nailing Sunnyhillboy right on the line.
2011 BALLABRIGGS 10yo 11st
Trained by the son of the great Red Rum's trainer Ginger McCain his son Donald McCain continued the family's great tradition with the race with Ballabriggs who took the modern Grand National preparation of running over hurdles until the weights came out before a warm up over fences before the big day. This was Ballabriggs first attempt at a marathon trip but during the previous season produced a strong staying performance to win the 3m1f110y Kim Muir Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He also had a faultless jumping record never falling or even unseating and at the age of 10 with plenty of experience behind him he looked a ideal type of the race.
2010 DON'T PUSH IT 10yo 11st 5pds
AP McCoy finally broke his Grand National duck on this JP McManus owned 10yo who despite showing high class form in his younger years over shorter trips he had his jumping issues and wasn't until the 12 months before the race that his jumping finally came together with a success over the Mildmay course on Grand National day in a competitive handicap chase. Earlier in the season he was 2nd in very soft ground when carrying a big weight in a classy 3m3f110y handicap chase at Cheltenham to indicate that the 4m4f trip could be within his range and he defied a weight that had not been carried to victory in the weight for many years to land a monumental gamble and help AP McCoy to becoming 2010 sports personality of the year.
2009 MON MOME 9yo 11st
The biggest price winner since Foinavon in 1967 Mon Mome was sent of a unconsidered 100-1 shot after a couple of very disappointing efforts but despite his long odds he had showed plenty of sighs in the past that the Aintree marathon could bring out the best in him as in many of his previous races he was staying on strongly at the end of the high class races over trips to short for him. He has a taster of the Grand National in the previous year finishing down the field but 8 year olds have always struggled in the race but this experience obviously didn't do him no harm as he romped home to win by 12 lengths from Comply Or Die the previous years winner.
2008 COMPLY OR DIE 9yo 10st 9pds
Comply Or Die had a perfect profile for the race showing useful form as a novice before missing a season but returning to the track as good as ever in his Grand National winning season by landing the gruelling 4m1f Eider Chase and with no jumping issues to worry about he was a no brainer when it came to finding a horse with a profile fit for the race and he duly obliged with a impressive victory giving trainer David Pipe jockey Timmy Murphy and owner David Johnson there 1st win in the race.
2007 SILVER BIRCH 10yo 10st 6pds
Paul Nicholls must still be kicking himself as this was the one that got away. Silver Birch looked set to go into the 2005 Grand National as favourite after winning both the Becher Chase at the course and also the Welsh National before injury ruled him out of the race. When he returned to fitness the following season he failed to show the same sparkle as in the previous season and although he did make it to Aintree but got no further than the chair and after this he was sold for just 20,000 guineas and was transferred to Gordon Elliott's stable in Ireland. The following season after finishing 2nd in the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival he was sent off at 33-1 for his 2nd crack and despite his long odds he ticked many of the boxes you would want for a potential Grand National and this time he finally fulfilled his early promise and in the process gave his trainer Gordon Elliott the Honor of being the youngest Grand National winning trainer.
2006 NUMBERSIXVALVERDE 10yo 10st 8pds
The previous seasons Irish Grand National winner had cast iron credentials going into the race after with a light weigh and jumping assured and despite the monumental effort of the previous years winner Hedgehunter giving 18 pounds to this stamina laden Irish challenger he could not repel Numbersisvalverde who also gave his jockey Niall Madden a win in the race at his very 1st attempt.
2005 HEDGEHUNTER 9yo 11st 1pds
Hedgehunter became the 1st horse since 1988 to carry in excess of 11 stone to victory and done so in very impressive style with Ruby Walsh clear after the last still on the bridle. He had demonstrated his stamina well before his Grand National winning season with a victory over 3m4f at Punchestown and also winning the previous seasons Thyestes Chase. He had run in the previous years race when taking a tired fall at the last but would have certainly been in the first 4 if not coming to grief. Hedgehunter would go onto finish 2nd the following year and then run in both the 2007,08 Nationals as well cementing his place as one of the most successful Grand National horses since the days of Red Rum.
2004 AMBERLEIGH HOUSE 12yo 10st 10pds
Trained by the legendry Donald McCain Amberleigh House recorded a emotional victory and giving Red Rums late trainer a 4th win in the race. This would be the horses 3rd run in the race, he was 3rd the previous year and bought down in the race in 2001. He was also a previous winner over the big fences winning the Becher Chase in 2002 and only just being touched off in the same race in 2003 he was a real Aintree specialist and like Red Rum in his later years he showed very little form at other tracks but come the 2004 Grand National his form around the track was there for all to see and just demonstrated how important previous form over the big fences is.