Horse Racing/Grand National Weights

How Do The Weights For The Grand National Work?
・Red Rum was the last horse to carry 12st to victory in 1974.
・There are 105 entries (43 Irish-trained, 2 French-trained) for the 2021 renewal.
・BHA Handicapper Martin Greenwood will frame the weights.

Grand National Weights Explained
It may seem like a mystery to many outsiders but the handicapping system used for the Aintree Grand National is really quite straightforward. Mostly using the regular handicap marks from the UK, Ireland and France, the BHA handicapper is allowed to use his discretion to change those marks for the Grand National because of the uniqueness of the course. In practice, the handicapper tends to lower the officially rated top-weights to encourage them to participate while sometimes raising the marks of certain horses with proven form over the National fences – a handicapping notion that has now become known as “the Aintree factor”. In a nutshell, the top-rated horse in the race will be allocated the top-weight of 11st 10lbs, and then all the other runners are allocated a weight based upon this top-rated horse. Bookmakers will reshape their Grand National horse racing betting markets on the back of the initial weights announcement.

Grand National Weights History
The weights of the Grand National runners now are very different to those of yesteryear. Over 100 years ago four different horses won carrying a massive 12st 7lb each. 1919 -Poethlyn, 1912 – Jerry M, 1899 – Manifesto, 1893 – Cloister. Over the years, the burden of top-weight has gradually been reduced. In 1956 the maximum a horse could carry in the race came down to of 12st. In 2002 that came down again to 11st 12lb and again to 11st 10lb in 2009. Red Rum was the last horse to carry 12st to victory in the 1974 Grand National.

Grand National Weights Lunch
The Grand National weights lunch is always a significant moment in every Grand National renewal as it is the first time we can analyse and dissect the weight allocations. Curiously held in London for many a year, the lunch has been held for the last couple of years at St George’s Hall in Liverpool, which is only right. The race belongs to the city of Liverpool and its people. What’s great about the lunch is that you can pick up lots of free horse racing tips from the attendees. Whether they win or not is another matter!

What Is The Perfect Grand National Weight?
For many years the optimum weight appeared to be for a horse in the 10st 6lbs – 10st 12lbs bracket. This trend fell out of favour through the years 2009-2012 when four horses on the spin won carrying 11st or more. Since 2013 the winning weights have been a bit topsy-turvy but again the 10st 6lbs – 10st 12lbs weight carrying range is a safer bet than most.

Grand National Qualification 2021
・The race is for seven yrs old and upwards, which, prior to March 23rd, have started in a steeple chase during the current season, and have been placed first, second, third or fourth in a steeple chase with an official distance description of ‘two miles seven and a half furlongs’ or more, at any time during the horse’s career.
・Horses must be also allotted a rating of 125 or more by the BHA Handicapper following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including February 14th.
・Horses which are not qualified for a rating in Great Britain or Ireland at closing may also be entered. Such horses may be eligible for a weight providing the Handicapper is satisfied that the horse’s racecourse performances up to and including February 14th would merit a minimum rating of 125.
・To qualify, horses must have run at least three times in Steeple Chases run under the Rules of Racing of the same Recognised Racing Authority up to and including February 14th. At the Handicapper’s discretion, such horses may be allotted a rating.

Grand National Scratchings, Declarations & Weights
・Enter by noon, February 2nd and pay £825 stake
・Weights published on February 16th
・Scratch by noon on March 2nd or pay £825
・Scratch by noon on March 23rd or pay £825
・Confirm by noon on April 5th and pay £1275
・Confirmed entries with weights published on April 6th
・Declare by 10.00 a.m. April 8th
・The race takes place on April 10th 5.15 pm, over a distance of 4m 2f 74yds and over a total of 30 Grand National fences.

2021 Grand National Weights
Multiple Betfair Chase hero Bristol De Mai, the French-trained Cross-Country champion Easysland and the 2020 Gold Cup runner-up Santini have all been allocated the joint-top-weight of 11st 10lb. Two-time winner Tiger Roll has been designated a racing weight of 11st 9lbs. Successful in 2018 and 2019, the eleven-year-old Gigginstown-stud owned runner is the star attraction amongst the 106 entries for this year’s renewal of the greatest steeplechase in the world. Owner Trevor Hemmings loves Aintree racecourse and has three Grand National victories to his name courtesy of Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011) and Many Clouds (2015) and his two principle chances this year are Cloth Cap (10st 5lb) and Lake View Lad (11st 0lbs).

The principle Irish-trained entries include Magic Of Light (10st 13lb), runner-up in 2019, Anibale Fly (10st 12lb), who was fourth in 2018 and fifth in 2019, the 2019 National Hunt Chase winner Any Second Now (10st 9lb), Kerry and Munster National heroine Cabaret Queen (10st 5lbs). In addition, former Irish Grand National victor Burrows Saint (10st 13lb) and dual Cheltenham Festival winner Presenting Percy (11st 9lb), now trained by Gordon Elliott, also feature at the initial Grand National weights stage.

The Grand National has eluded the six-time champion Jump trainer Nicky Henderson and this year his main protagonists appear to be Santini (11st 10lb) and OK Corral (10st 8lb). 11-time champion Jump trainer Paul Nicholls can never be underestimated, sending out the winner in 2012 with Neptune Collonges. The Ditcheat maestro saddles Give Me A Copper (10st 4lb) and Yala Enki (11st 3lb) Other notable runners are Gordon Elliott’s Delta Work (11st 9lb), Welsh Grand National scorers Potters Corner (10st 6lb) and Secret Reprieve (10st 1lb), two-time Becher Chase runner-up Kimberlite Candy (10st 10lb), Kerry National runner-up Moyhenna (10st 2lb) and the double Becher Chase champion Vieux Lion Rouge (10st 5lb).