Grand National Entries and Weights
Grand National Weights 2021
The Grand National weights are announced in February each year – well before the race – but these weights are then set in stone regardless of what each horse does in between the weights announced and the actual race.
Here you have the top 20 horses sorted by highest weight for Grand National 2021:
|Grand National Runner 2021||Weight||Bookmaker Offer|
|BRISTOL DE MAI||11-10||Bet with|
|PRESENTING PERCY||11-9||Bet with|
|THE STORYTELLER||11-8||Bet with|
|CHRIS’S DREAM||11-7||Bet with|
|YALA ENKI||11-3||Bet with|
|DEFINITLY RED||11-1||Bet with|
|LAKE VIEW LAD||11-0||Bet with|
|BURROWS SAINT||10-13||Bet with|
|MAGIC OF LIGHT||10-13||Bet with|
|ACAPELLA BOURGEOIS||10-12||Bet with|
|ANIBALE FLY||10-12||Bet with|
|KIMBERLITE CANDY||10-10||Bet with|
|TOUT EST PERMIS||10-12||Bet with|
Bristol De Mai, Easysland and Santini have been allocated top weights (11st 10lb), whilst Gordon Elliott’s trained Tiger Roll has been judged slightly harsher with a pound below. In relation to this, the horse has been removed from the 2021 event.
The Grand National betting markets are a lot more active once the weights are announced with punters now knowing what their fancies will have to carry in order to win the Aintree Grand National.
With the horses still allowed to run after the Grand National weights are announced then this can often work both ways. Some horses will run well in the build-up to the Grand National and would normally rise up the handicap (more weight), while others might underperform and would in a normal race drop in the handicap (less weight).
Even if a horse is allotted 8st 12lbs, it must carry 10 stone, the required minimum. This means some horses will be carrying possibly a stone more than they should be (known as being out of the handicap). This disadvantage should suggest they are likely to perform less well than their rivals. Many punters will automatically put a line through horses who are out of the Grand National handicap. As the quality of the horses has improved, few horses, if any, are running off anything other than their mark.
How is the weight determined?
When allocating the weight of each horse, the handicapper must take a variety of factors into account. This includes form – a horse’s recent/previous performances and the course: the so-called ‘Aintree Factor’. This begs the questions, does the horse like the track? Is (s)he proven over long trips?
The final field is determined by each contender’s rating. The highest-weighted horses given preference in a maximum field of 40.
The top-rated horses (s) in the race will be allocated the top-weight 11-10 and then all the other Grand National runners in the race will be allocated their weight off this top-rated horse.
Until Many Clouds, no horse carrying more than 11st 7lb had won since Red Rum‘s 1977 third victory, (11st 8lb). However, in the 25 runnings between 1984 and 2009 only one winner (Hedgehunter, 2005) carried more than 11st. The win in 2010 of Don’t Push It carrying 11st 5lb clearly heralded a change in this trend. Many Clouds shouldered 11st 9lbs.
This weight trend seems to be turning around a bit in recent years with six winners since 2009 now carrying 11st or more, but overall in the last 29 years we’ve still have 22 winners carry 10-13 or less (76%).
Grand National Handicap History
Historically, the allocation of weights for the Grand National was crucial for the prospects of trainers, jockeys and owners. The Grand National Handicap has cleared the path to big-race glory or produced a burden too heavy to overcome.
Unlike some other prestigious steeplechases of the year, the Grand National is a handicap race. This means horses carry differing weights according to their previous form. The idea behind the Grand National handicap is to make for a more even race.
The handicapper’s ultimate (though unfeasible) aim is for all horses to pass the winning post in a dead heat – but, of course, this would never happen with 40 horses running and many tricky fences to jump.
The Grand National is the only race where the British Horseracing Authority’s Head of Handicapping, Martin Greenwood, can use his discretion to determine the weights. He can personally select what each horse will carry and can deviate from the normal handicap ratings.
Considered a top weight comes to about 11st 10lb. The weights allotted to the other horses are set in relation to this. This means if the top-weighted horse drops out, the weights for others may alter but will not change in relation to each other.
Changes to the Grand National Handicap
Six of the last 11 winners in the Grand National Handicap have carried at least 11st. There is now a widespread view that horses at the top are no longer at a big disadvantage. In part, it’s due to a new formula for handicapping the National devised in 2001. Essentially the handicap has been compressed, decreasing the gap between the top and lowest weighted horses, creating a more competitive race.
Some 15 years ago, the Grand National field was still largely made up of horses out of the handicap. They were carrying the minimum 10st weight. On the final race card, these could sometimes account for 70% of the field. But, as we’ve already said, in the past few years, every horse has got into the handicap proper. In 1999, the lowest-rated horse in the race had an official rating of 110. In the 2011 renewal, the lowest-rated horse, Golden Kite, has a rating of 135. So, the quality of the field increased by 25lbs in that 11 year period. Last year’s bottom weights had a mark of 139.
The result is that the top-weighted horses will have only a few pounds more than their rivals. Officials will be giving no more than a stone and a half to any runner. It’s a far cry from a century ago, when Manifesto, the 1897 and 1899 winner, gave 48lb to some horses in the 1900 race.
Grand National Handicap compressing
We’ve seen Tiger Roll win with 11st 5lbs in 2019 and Many Clouds shouldering 11st 9lbs to victory in 2015 – the biggest winning weight since Red Rum in 1974.
In the past, carrying 11st or more has been considered impossible until Hedgehunter carried 11st 1lb for the first time in 22 years. But 2009 winner, Mon Mome, carried 11st to win the race in a year in which the top four horses all carried 11st or more, whilst the 2010 winner – Don’t Push It – carried 11st 5lb and the runner-up – Black Apalachi – carried 11st 6lb.
Looking back and considering the increase in the quality of the horses in modern times, it’s likely that Bobbyjo would not have made the starting line in any of the past 10 runnings. In 1999, the winner was carrying 10st in 1999 and racing from 14lbs out of the handicap.
Thus, whilst Red Rum remains the last horse to win the Grand National Handicap off top weight (and the first since the 1930s), it may not be long before that achievement is repeated – 2013 winner, Neptune Collonges, was the fifth top-weight, whilst only former Gold Cup winner Lord Windamere had more weight than Many Clouds.
As sporting sights go, few can match the sheer excitement of 40 horses thundering towards the first fence at Aintree in the Grand National.