There’s not much time to for punters to get their breath back following a rollercoaster Cheltenham Festival as we are straight back into the big race action on the following Saturday. Pick of the contests on offer is this valuable handicap for the staying chasers.
The Midlands Grand National might not have the prestige of other UK and Irish ‘Grand Nationals’ but it is every bit as challenging, and requires a quality horse to take the spoils at Uttoxeter.
Midlands Grand National Past Winners
|2021||Time To Get Up||3/1||Jonjo O'Neill||Jonjo O'Neill Jr|
|2020||Truckers Lodge||6/1||Paul Nicholls||Lorcan Williams|
|2019||Potters Corner||20/1||Christian Williams||James Bowen|
|2018||Regal Flow||16/1||Bob Buckler||Sean Houlihan|
|2017||Chase The Spud||11/1||Fergal O’Brien||Paddy Brennan|
|2016||Firebrd Flyer||16/1||Evan Williams||Adam Wedge|
|2015||Goonyella||6/1||J T R Dreaper||Jonathan Burke|
|2014||Goulanes||13/2||David Pipe||Richard Johnson|
|2013||Big Occasion||6/1||David Pipe||Mikey Ennis|
|2012||Master Overseer||11/1||David Pipe||Tom Scudamore|
|2011||Minella Four Star||25/1||David Pipe||Conor O'Farrell|
|2010||Synchronised||15/2||Jonjo O'Neill||Tony McCoy|
|2009||Russian Trigger||8/1||Victor Dartnall||Jack Doyle|
|2008||Himalayan Trail||16/1||Sue Smith||Tjade Collier|
|2007||Baron Windrush||12/1||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Jason Maguire|
|2006||G V A Ireland||5/1||Francis Flood||Ruby Walsh|
|2005||Philson Run||14/1||Nick Williams||Paul Carberry|
|2003||Intelligent||6/1||Jessica Harrington||Robbie Power|
|2002||The Bunny Boiler||5/1||Noel Meade||Norman Williamson|
|2001||Abandoned (foot & mouth)||-||-||-|
About the Midlands Grand National
The Midlands Grand National is a National Hunt steeplechase race which is widely considered to be one of the sternest tests faced within the horse racing world. As such, it plays as a key indicator as to how the horse will fare against the very similar conditions found in other difficult staying races such as the Grand National, or indeed the Scottish and Irish Grand National races, which are run a month later in April, and even the Welsh Grand National which is run in December. The race is for horses aged five years and above, and it takes an exceptional staying horse to complete this extremely challenging race.
The Difficulty Competitors Face
The first Midlands Grand National was run relatively recently in May of 1969, and no horse has ever won the event more than once, which shows just how hard it is to come out on top of such a competitive field, and under such difficult conditions. Back then it was run over 4m2f before an extra couple of furlongs were added in 1977. There have been a number of changes since then but it has been contested over four miles, one and a half furlongs, since 2004.
Whilst no horse has done the double at Uttoxeter, there have however been four jockeys who have won the race twice. The current leading trainer for wins in this gruelling contest is David Pipe, who won it for four years consecutively from 2011 to 2014.
Held in March of each year at Uttoxeter Racecourse, the Midlands Grand National is an enormous task for any horse. The fact that the race is over four miles and includes a whopping 24 jumps in total make it the ideal comparison tool for trainers looking to gauge how well their horse will do in a major Grand National, as it is more similar to the race than any other meeting on the racing calendar.
A Similar Run
The ability to stay the entire course, which is too far for most horses in National Hunt racing, is a key indicator as to whether the horse will be able to run the massive distance of the more famous Aintree race or one of the other similar contests. It also gives trainers and punters a guide to how they will navigate the obstacles and whether they will be able to do so without falling or being brought down, two huge dangers facing a horse running in the Grand National.
One aspect in which the race does differ from the Grand National however, is the fact that it usually has a much smaller field. The Grand National normally has around 40 runners, whereas the Midlands Grand National’s biggest field ever was only 22. Of course, this makes for less congestion on the racecourse, in particular at the obstacles, and a much smaller chance of being brought down by another horse.
Although the Grand National races which are run in April may have slightly different conditions depending on which course they are run at, and the fact that the ground is usually a bit firmer depending on weather, the horses who achieve success at the Midlands Grand National almost always go on to run in at least one Grand National race afterwards.
In fact, of the 10 winners of the race between 2010 and 2019, nine horses had gone on to run in at least one of the bigger contests afterwards, and five of those horses did so within the same calendar year. Only one of those 10 most victors did not go on to run in a Grand National. However, even that sole exception did go on to run in several of the biggest meetings of the National Hunt year.
What’s more, as the table below shows, winners here at Uttoxeter have sometimes done very well at one of the bigger Nationals. Whilst success in the Midlands is no guarantee of future and bigger glory, it is clear that any horse landing this one is worthy of at least a second glance.
Midlands National Winners in Future Nationals: 2010 – 2019
|Midlands Grand National Winner (Year)||Following Grand National Race (Year)|
|Potters Corner (2019)||1st – Welsh Grand National (2019)|
|Regal Flow (2018)||10th – Scottish Grand National (2018)|
|Chase The Spud (2017)||Pulled-up – Aintree Grand National (2018)|
|Firebird Flyer (2016)||8th – Welsh Grand National (2016)|
|Goonyella (2015)||5th – Aintree Grand National (2016)|
|Goulanes (2014)||Pulled-up – Welsh Grand National (2016)|
|Big Occasions (2013)||2nd – Welsh Grand National (2013)|
|Master Overseer (2012)||No Further Grand National Run|
|Minella Four Star (2011)||Pulled-up – Aintree Grand National (2011)|
|Synchronised (2010)||Pulled-up – Irish Grand National (2011)|