It’s one of the most prestigious horse races on the planet and one in which the winner has to overcome all manner of obstacles to hit the finishing line in the first place.
First, there’s a high-class field of 40 of the best stayers, jumpers and steeplechasers around, many of whom are well-placed to tackle the four-mile, two-furlong marathon.
Then there are the fences at the host course, Aintree. These are so famous that many have their own names, with The Chair, Becher’s Brook and Foinavon just three of the most challenging obstructions to jump cleanly.
Factor in the often heavy going at Aintree, and we have a recipe for a race where anything can – and often does – happen.
One of the most popular Grand National ante-post tips is also the bookmakers’ favorite; Corach Rambler, who leads the way at 6/1 ahead of defending champion Noble Yeats (8/1) and Cheltenham Festival winner Delta Work (10/1).
Lucinda Russell’s stayer also won at Cheltenham in March, successfully defending his Ultima Handicap Chase title, and while the nine-year-old will be stepping up in trip to four miles for the first time, he has already enjoyed success over Aintree’s famous fences in the St Helens Novices’ Chase back in 2021.
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) March 14, 2023
After some time off following his exploits at Prestbury Park, Corach Rambler is back in training and Russell could not be any happier with what she has seen from her star pupil – revealing that he looks ‘very fit’ ahead of his tilt at one of National Hunt racing’s most infamous races.
The 2023 edition will be particularly poignant for Russell, who made the headlines six years ago when she trained One For Arthur – only the second Scottish winner of the Grand National in history.
Sadly, One For Arthur – a horse Russell has described as being like a ‘member of the family’ – passed away earlier this year, so victory for Corach Rambler would be a fitting tribute.
However, the Scottish raider will have to overcome the odds in a race that has not been particularly kind to betting favorites over the years…
Worth the Wait?
The headline-grabbing stat at the Grand National is that only one betting market principle has won the race since 2005.
Tiger Roll’s victory in 2019 made him the first horse to win the Grand National in consecutive years since Red Rum in the 1970s, was the exception rather than the rule – the staying star winning at odds of 4/1.
The Story of 2018 and 2019 Grand National winner Tiger Roll… 🐯🙌 pic.twitter.com/yy04nXxpbV
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) April 9, 2019
Otherwise, it’s been a rarity that the betting favorite has prevailed, with horses at lengthy odds of 33/1 (Rule the World in 2016), 50/1 (Noble Yeats in 2022) and even 66/1 (Auroras Encore in 2013) prevailing in the meantime.
Comply or Die and Don’t Push It won the National in 2008 and 2010 respectively but they were joint favorites in the betting, and so you have to go back to 2005 and Hedgehunter’s famous win over the Aintree fences for the last time prior to Tiger Roll that a favorite has prevailed.
If you track the betting odds for the last 50 editions of the Grand National (including the 1970 and 1971 renewals in place of the canceled 1993 and 2020 editions), just five outright favorites have gone on to win – a 10% strike rate not in keeping with their short odds. With joint favorites also included, the win ratio goes up to 8/50.
That explains the size of the task facing Corach Rambler, although the feeling is that the handicapper has treated him well with a weight of 10st 5lb, which is far below what we might expect from a two-time Cheltenham Festival winner. Noble Yeats, by contrast, will have to lug around a hefty 11st 11lb.
So can Corach Rambler enjoy a rare victory for a betting favorite at the 2023 Grand National?