Picking a Grand National winner

Such is the interest in Saturday’s Grand National that some 600,000,000 people will watch the race on TV around the world, while one in four adults in UK will have a flutter the Aintree spectacular, hoping to pick the winner from the 40 runners, writes Jack Nixon.

At first glance it would seem like a lottery, selecting the first past the post, but experience tells me that it is not as hard as you might think, given that nearly 30 of the field are not likely to be in contention at the end of the four-and-half miles.

But for the historians among you, it should be noted that the first ever winner in 1839 was in fact called Lottery, followed two years later by a horse called Charity.

In the event, the most likely charity to benefit will be the bookmakers, especially as novice punters will be betting with their hearts and not their heads.

So for what it is worth here are one or two pointers for first time punters, not guaranteed to win a fortune, but enough to put you in with a chance of beating the bookies.

Nearly all horses that have won the race have been in the age bracket of nine to 11 years old, and in the main carry less than 10 stones seven pounds on their brave backs.

For example, it is 75 years since a seven-year-old won the race, so for those of you thinking of backing Unioniste don’t get too carried away, give him another two years before investing your pennies, though he might just surprise us all.

More likely candidates are Monbeg Dude, Balthazar King, Rebel Rebellion, and Royal Knight, while you could do worse than getting on AP McCoy’s mount Shutthefrontdoor. A win in the champion jockey’s last season would be a great send off.

For those of you looking for a 100/1 winner be warned that only five such prices have triumphed in 186 years of running the race.

But good luck and enjoy the eight plus minutes of a roller coaster on Saturday.

My main money will be going on Balthazar King, while I am likely to double it with an each-way bet on Rory McIroy in the Masters.