Grand National Trial Handicap Chase Betting Tips, Stats & History

It’s that time of year when the thoughts of many punters turn firmly to the Cheltenham Festival, with the countdown now well and truly on. There’s another big race appearing on the horizon too though, namely the most famous horse race in the world – The Aintree Grand National. Topping the bill at Haydock in mid-February is one of the key trials for the most dramatic steeplechase run anywhere on the planet.

Race Info

3m4½f is the trip for this Grade 3 Handicap Chase, set to be run on good to soft going this year and offering £100,000 in total prize money.

GoingDistanceGradePrize MoneyRunnersEW Terms
Good To Soft 3m4½f 3 £100,000 16 Runners 1/4 1-4

Grand National Trial Betting Tips

Haydock, 15:35, Saturday 16th February 2019

This hasn’t been a bad race for last time out winners over the years, with five of the past 10 victors arriving on the back of a success in their most recent race. We will be hoping that trend continues this year in the form of a runner from the Colin Tizzard yard who also fits the age trend.

Venetia Williams is the most successful of the trainers represented this year, with two wins in the past five editions. Williams looks set to send defending champion Yala Enki into battle this time around.

In terms of the age of the winner, the relative youngsters have shaded it, with 18 of the past 25 winners being between seven and nine years of age.

We look set to have a field jam-packed with top staying handicapping talent once again this year, including the 2018 champion, a couple of seven year olds who look firmly on the up and a host of last time out winners who arrive right at the top of their game.

Ram All The Rage

Heading the betting at present is the David Pipe representative, Ramses De Teillee, and judged on his effort last time out in the Welsh Grand National, it’s easy to see why he is proving popular with punters. A fine second to Elegant Escape that day, a 5lb rise in the handicap makes life tougher, but still only seven years old he may well still be improving. The current good to soft ground could be a concern though as each of his four career wins – and that second at Chepstow – have all come on pretty soft or heavy going.

Wak Back For More?

As a 10 year old, Sue Smith’s Wakanda may fall outside the ideal age range here, but other than that he would appear to have plenty in his favour. A record at Haydock of 1P1 would suggest that he handles what can be something of a specialist’s track particularly well. We don’t have to look too far back for the latest of those wins either, as it came on his most recent start when seeing off the re-opposing Robinsfirth in the Peter Marsh Handicap in December. He’s up 4lbs for that, but that looks fair enough and the additional 3f here may even see this dour stayer in an even better light.

Vacation Victorious For Tizzard?

Another for our shortlist is the Colin Tizzard runner Royal Vacation. Going in the Jean Bishop colours sported so famously by the magnificent Cue Card, this one certainly isn’t in that league, but is nevertheless a smart performer and may just be suited by this test. An excellent second off 143 in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham on his comeback, he then bombed out on soft ground at Sandown before slamming the 154 rated The Last Samuri off level weights at Taunton last time out. That earned him a further hike to 150 ahead of this, but we were greatly impressed by the staying power he showed that day and, with the ground looking like being in his favour, he appears set to go well.

Final Verdict: Royal Vacation each way

Ramses Des Teillee is certainly an interesting contender, and as one of the youngest runners in the field is the one most likely to have something in hand from the handicapper. If he handles the ground he can go close, but there looks to be sufficient doubt about that to warrant taking him on.

The one for us at a bigger price is Colin Tizzard’s – slightly fortuitous – 2016 Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase winner, Royal Vacation. Still only nine he was most impressive last time out and may just outclass these.

Recent Winners

YearWinnerSPTrainerJockey
2019 Robinsfirth 8/1 Colin Tizzard Sean Bowen
2018 Yala Enki 8/1 Venetia Williams Charlie Deutsch
2017 Vieux Lion Rouge 8/1 David Pipe Tom Scudamore
2016 Bishops Road 13/2 Kerry Lee Richard Johnson
2015 Lie Forrit 8/1 Lucinda Russell Peter Buchanan
2014 Rigadin De Beauchene 16/1 Venetia Williams Robert Dunne
2013 Well Refreshed 9/2 Gary Moore Joshua Moore
2012 Giles Cross 4/1 Victor Dartnall Denis O'Regan
2011 Silver By Nature 10/1 Lucinda Russell Peter Buchanan
2010 Silver By Nature 7/1 Lucinda Russell Peter Buchanan

About the Grand National Trial: A Look at Aintree Contenders

Horse Race at Haydock Park
Gerald murphy, flickr

The Grand National at Aintree is by some distance the most well-known jumps race in the world. It is a huge prize that every jockey, trainer and owner in National Hunt racing dreams of winning but just dreaming about it is not enough. Such is the unique challenge posed by the iconic marathon of a race that horses have to be thoroughly prepared before competing in the Aintree spectacular. There are number of demanding chases used as preparations, including the Grand National Trial at Haydock, just 10 miles or so east of Aintree.

A Complicated History

The Grand National Trial is one of the highlights of the jumps season at Haydock but its history is far from straightforward. Technically speaking, this is a new race as of 1991 when the Greenall Whitley Gold Cup was introduced at Haydock. However, in the eyes of many racing fans, that race was a reintroduction of the Grand National Trial which was first run at Haydock way back in 1947.

The original name was officially reinstated in 1996 and it is now considered to be the same race in terms of records and statistics. Therefore, the world famous Red Rum sits alongside more recent winners such as Party Politics and Master Oats on the list of Grand National Trial winners, adding more than a little prestige to the contest’s history.

Haydock Grand National Trial Timeline

Year From Year To Race Detail
1947 1984 Run as the Grand National Trial over 3m 4½f
1985 1990 No race run at the trial distance
1991 1995 Greenall Whitley Gold Cup increased to 3m 4f
1996 Present Green Whitely Gold Cup reamed the Grand National Trial

Silver By Nature (2010 and 2011) and Goosander (1955 and 1957) are the only horses to have won the Grand National Trial more than once as of the 2019 renewal. In addition, it is worth noting that Silver By Nature’s trainer, Lucinda Russell, became the third trainer to saddle three winners of this race in 2015, with Neville Crump and Fred Rimmell preceding her.

Chart Showing the Haydock Grand national Trial's Most Successful Trainers

A Worthy Prize in Its Own Right

The Grand National Trial is always run with half an eye on the Grand National. However, there is a danger of not treating this race with the respect that it deserves. It’s a Grade 3 contest which, as of the 2019 renewal, is worth almost £60,000 to winning connections. That’s a prize not to be sniffed at and, of course, the big race itself is also “only” a Grade 3 (even if it does have a seven-figure purse!).

Chart Showing the Winnings by Finishing Position in the 2019 Haydock Grand National Trial

In addition to that, this race is also a big one for punters to win. It is a handicap which takes place over 3 miles 4 ½ furlongs so is always going to be tough to predict. Add to that the relatively large fields which compete each year, the unpredictable ground which has varied from good to heavy in recent years (and heavy at Haydock means HEAVY) and 22 fences and it should be no real surprise that so few favourites win this race.

It takes a performance full of heart, stamina and jumping ability just to make it round the Haydock course. A large proportion of the field either falls on their way round or is pulled up some way before home, especially when the ground is tough as is common, so the winner is deserving of great respect as a staying chaser no matter what happens later in the year at Aintree.

Not the Trial Punters Might Hope For

If the Grand National Trial is a tough race to predict and complete, the Grand National itself is, of course, on a different level. These trial races help connections to get a feel of whether or not a horse has what it takes to complete the Grand National but such is the lottery of the that race that they serve as a poor predictor of success in the big one, truth be told as the table blow indicates.

Haydock Trial Winners in the Aintree National: 2010 - 2019

Year Grand National Trial Winner Result in the Grand National
2019 Robinsfirth (11st 4lbs) Did Not Run
2018 Yala Enki 10st 11lbs) Did Not Run
2017 Vieux Lion Rouge (11st 6lbs) 6th (10st 12lbs)
2016 Bishops Road (11st 7lbs) Did Not Run
2015 Lie Forrit (11st 6lbs) Did Not Run
2014 Rigadin De Beauchene (10st 5lbs) Did Not Run
2013 Well Refreshed (10st 3lbs) Did Not Run
2012 Giles Cross (10st 5lbs) Pulled Up (10st 1lbs)
2011 Silver By Nature (11st 12lbs) 12th (10st 12lbs)
2010 Silver By Nature (10st 11lbs) Did Not Run

Whilst it is unlikely that we’ll see a winner of both races, this is not a race to completely discount. Far from it. Many previous winners have gone on to have success in other big staying chases, including both the Welsh and Scottish Grand Nationals, whilst some have even gone down in trip for races such as the Topham Chase.

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