The Midlands Grand National is a Listed handicap Steeplechase run over a distance of 4 miles, 1 furlong and 110 yards, and since 1991, has been run on the Saturday straight after the Cheltenham Festival.
Because of the proximity of Uttoxeter from Cheltenham, many racegoers, especially the Irish add an extra day onto their racing holiday to swell the bumper crowd on the day.
Since 1969, the Midlands Grand National has been the jewel in the crown of horse racing within the region. The atmosphere is always one of excitement and anticipation as people await the biggest raceday in the Midlands. That excitement is always fuelled by the action witnessed throughout the previous Cheltenham Festival week.
The inaugural race took place five weeks after the Grand National and all eyes were on Highland Wedding, who had won at Aintree. However, Highland Wedding ran a lacklustre race and was pulled up with the race going to the 13-year-old Happy Spring.
Some interesting facts on the race include:
- Widest winning margin – Another Excuse (1996) – distance.
- Leading trainer- David Pipe Minella Four Star (2011), Master Overseer (2012), Big Occasion (2013), Goulanes (2014).
- Narrowest winning margin – Fighting Chance (1974), Knock Hill (1988) – head.
- Most runners – 22, in 1978, 1979 and 1981.
- Fewest runners – 6, in 2000.
Here are some trends and statistics based on the last ten renewals of the race:
The last ten winners were aged six to nine years.
The record of horses ages ten years and over in this race is extremely poor over the past ten years.
Horses carrying 10st 10lb or above: 5-7-53
Horses carrying 10st 9lb or below: 5-21-101
As you can see the from the winner’s list the last three renewals have been won by horses with fairly sizeable weights. This year 13 of the 18 runners are carrying 10st 10lb or more.
7/10 winners finished in the first three in their last completed start.
10/10 winners had run over 3m+.
8/10 winners were having their first ever run at Uttoxeter.
There are no significant price trends over the last ten years and the favourite has won just twice in that time.
Midlands Grand National 2018 – Market Principles
At the time of writing Missed Approach has just gone on to win the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival which is a significant form boost to Neil Kings eleven-year-old.
Milansbar was the winner of the Classic Chase at Warwick in January but failed to back up that success when only fifth in the Eider Chase at Newcastle last time out. He will be aiming to bounce back to form in this contest.
Get On the Yager
Dan Skelton’s runner was totally unsuited by the drop back to two and a half miles at Southwell last time, having won the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby prior to that.
The Rowland Meyrick form for has subsequently worked out well so the eight-year-old is definitely worth a second look when making your deliberations.
West Of The Edge
Trained by Dr Richard Newland, West Of The Edge has been very unfortunate not to have made it into the winner’s circle so far this season.
He bumped into heavy-ground specialist Emperor’s Choice on heavy ground at Haydock in December and then he unfortunately met an ever improving Baywing in the Eider Chase at Newcastle on his last outing.
The Eider was a demanding race and it remains to be seen if he has recovered from it after just three weeks.
Back To The Thatch
The six-year-old ran in the Eider last time and was still going pretty when falling at the sixteenth fence. Prior to that he had taken a three-mile handicap at Chepstow and is an interesting young horse.
These Uttoxeter fences may be a little more sympathetic to him than in the Eider where he did hit one or two.
Another horse certainly blessed with bucket loads of stamina is Sue Smith’s Hainan.
The seven-year-old grey has shown he relishes extreme distances with a 12-length victory over three and a half miles at Haydock in November before finishing third in the Grade Two Peter Marsh Chase back at the same venue.
He then ran up in the leading group all the way in the Eider, just fading back in the closing stages to finish fourth.
Regal Flow trained by Bob Buckler and ridden by Sean Houlihan is well worth an each way bet.
The veteran performer was the winner of the South West Racing Club Handicap Chase at Taunton last time out and is clearly in good heart at the moment.
This race always tends to be rather attritional with many of its previous victors running out as wide margin winners.
Sue Smith’s Hainan should run another solid front-running race under Danny Cook and he may well have them all on the stretch turning for home.
Regal Flow is also doing everything right at the moment and he should give supporters another good run for their money.
888sport suggests: Hainan and Regal Flow (e/w).
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*