Yes, I am wearing my cliché-ridden shell-suit and I have my patented Terry McDermott perm wig and stick-on moustache. Why?

It’s Aintree of course, and the Grand National, where the horses will most definitely be neighing “Calm down, calm down!” to those whip-happy jockeys, and W.A.G.S will be glowing in their Tango-best orange fake tan.

For those of you who follow Cambridge University maths whizzes for your horse racing tips, well William Hartston has analysed all of the winners in the race’s 174-year history, and is determined that the winning horse is likely to have a one-word name beginning with an S, R, M or C.

That’s me sorted then. The girlfriend’s yearly handbag budget (which is huge) is going on the only qualifier this year: the Katie Walsh-ridden Seabass.

The winner’s name, according to Mr Hartston (who I suspect has a lot of time on his hands), usually consists of 8–10 letters, and the horse is typically aged 9 or 10.

Seabass begins with an S, is 10 years old and has 7 letters. Mr Hartston also short-listed Tatenen and Teaforthree.

Thank you Mr Hartston, now get back to work please!

Let’s move on to the stats for the National, and the first thing I would personally note is that no one jockey has won the Grand National in two consecutive years since 2002 (it could be longer but my stats only go back that far). That will mean putting a line through Daryl Jacob’s horse Join Together.

Similarly, no one trainer has won the Grand National in consecutive years. This could rule out Paul Nicholls’ runners Join Together, What a Friend, and Harry the Viking (numbers 12, 2, and 31).
Phew, that’s 39 horses left to choose from.

Horses aged in double figures have won 15 of the last 23 runnings (I will shortlist by saddlecloth number so we have 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 41, 42).

18 of the last 19 winners were aged 9+ so as well as the above, perhaps include 15, 27, 29, 10, 11, 32, 21, 17, 4, 13.

No 7-year-old has won the National for 73 years, so rule out Saint Are (25).

Every winner since 1970 has won over at least 3 miles (24 furlongs), which discounts 21, 27, 34.

Last year’s winner (in a photo finish) was the first horse since 1981 to win after having not raced for 50+ days. This would rule out 1, 3, 4, 8, 13, 16, 17, 23, 33, 41.

Just one Cheltenham Festival winner has gone on to win the National since 1961. There are no Cheltenham winners in the field this year.

There has been no Irish Winner since 2007. The Irish this year include 4, 6, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 22, 26, 27, 28, 30, 34, 36.

Since 2003, no horse rated below 138 has won the National. This precludes 34–42 inclusive.
5 of the last 12 winners have experienced the Aintree fences before, so discount 4, 10, 13, 16, 17, 29, 31, 34, 35, 39, 40, 41, 42.

Horses with no negatives and two positives include Roberto Goldback Cappa Bleu and Always Waining, 33/1, 12/1 and 40/1 currently. They will do for me! Well, agree with me as far as Roberto Goldback is concerned.

For those wishing to take a contrarian view (after all, it’s a devilishly tricky puzzle to solve), Quel Esprit, Colbert Station, and Ninetieth Minute have the most negatives. Maybe you’ll want to back these ones instead!

Betfair Trader Warning

I want to follow up on my warning last week about this very worrying ‘offer’ exclusively from

I received alleged screenshots purporting to show trading profits for customers. BUT, there is NO trading whatsoever with this service. They build up a betting bank, of normally £1000, by exclusively laying horses in handicap races. Some of these lays are at prices such as 12.63, 15.80 and 24.39. Unsuspecting newcomers will see the profits and think all is well, unaware I suppose as to what exactly trading is.

This is careless in the extreme. It only takes one of these horses to win its race and carefully constructed lay profits will disappear.

Further, in the email I received, I could actually change the transactions box:


One for the X Files that.

How can I change the transactions box from a screenshot? As you can see, a horse was layed at odds of 12.63 for £19.33: that’s roughly a quarter of the betting bank risked on a lay, not a trade.

This service is therefore highly misleading, and is not involved in trading at all. My advice? Please swerve this completely.

Beta Testers Wanted

Many thanks to all those of you who have already applied to beta test a brand new tipping service.

My publisher and I are going to look through all the responses next week, so there is still time to apply if you haven’t already.

As I mentioned, if you want to apply, just let me know why you think you are the right person for the job!  You will need to be able to give regular feedback and whether you paper trade or make actual bets and we’d like to hear how your bets go. So just email me by Monday with the reasons why you think it should be you!

I’m off now to see if William Hartston actually does any work at Cambridge University.