Pick the Grand National winner, guide for novices

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Five ways to pick the Grand National winner – if you’re a novice” was written by Barry Glendenning, for theguardian.com on Friday 8th April 2011 13.55 UTC

Think of the royals

With Prince William and Kate Middleton’s nuptials looming, omens suggest a horse with some connection to the royal wedding might prevail; Party Politics famously did for the bookies in 1992, the year of a General Election. Although Royal Rosa is the most regally monikered horse in the field, Oscar Time is the one the Union Jack-waving Middle Englanders should plump for. It’s the mount of Sam Waley-Cohen, the amateur jockey credited with getting William and Kate back together after their 2007 split by mischievously inviting both to a party at his family’s mansion, where they got their relationship back on track.

Remember the importance of family

Remarkably, when the jockey-bookings were finalised, there were four sets of siblings down to ride in this year’s Grand National. Sadly the withdrawal of Our Monty means that Ruby Walsh’s sister, Katie, misses out, leaving Paul and Nina Carberry on Backstage and Character Building, Leighton and Paddy Aspell on In Compliance and Chief Dan George, and Robbie and Andrew McNamara on Majestic Concorde and Bluesea Cracker. And while many wouldn’t dream of betting on a female amateur, the excellent Ms Carberry is bound to attract plenty of support as the only woman in the race.

Stick to the sport you do know

If football is more your bag than racing, you could do worse than put your money on What A Friend, a notoriously stubborn, occasionally temperamental but unquestionably talented steed that shares more than a few personality traits with his owner, Sir Alex Ferguson. Meanwhile JP McManus, the Manchester United manager’s former-boss-turned-nemesis (as a result of a row over another racehorse), sends out five runners. The notoriously myopic Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger isn’t represented in this year’s line-up, but should he decide to have a bet, would almost certainly back BecauseIcouldntsee.

Go with the grey

The elevation of the former steeplechaser Desert Orchid to national treasure status proves how much everyone loves a pretty grey horse and betting on one has its advantages – especially when you are trying to spot your fancy during the 40-strong field’s death-or-glory cavalry charge towards the first fence. Four greys will come under starter’s orders this afternoon: Silver By Nature, Quolibet, Piraya and Character Building. Silver By Nature is the pick of the quartet, but will be hoping for a splash of overnight rain to provide a bit of cut in the ground to help him become the first grey to win the Grand National since Nicolaus Silver in 1961.

Have fun with a novelty bet

If the prospect of picking the winner proves too daunting, you can always opt for one of the vast range of novelty bets offered by most bookmakers: the country of origin of the winning trainer, number of finishers, number of horses to clear the first fence, a father-son trainer-jockey combination to win, any horse to lead at the elbow and lose and even the number of false starts. Fans of Wayne Rooney-inspired profanity may be interested to know that Coral is offering 20-1 against the winning jockey effing and jeffing into a TV camera after the race.

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