The 2024 Grand National is fast approaching and for many that means it is time to start the process of finding the winner.
The winning horse will still have to stay but it can be no coincidence that two novice chasers, therefore potentially unexposed to the handicapper, have won recently. Rule The World (2016) had never won a chase while Noble Yeats (2022) had been campaigned, for the most part, over distances we now know were way too short for him.
Last year’s winner Corach Rambler entered the race incredibly well handicapped at 10st 5lbs. After the weights for the race were revealed last February, the horse went on to cruise to victory in the Ultima at the Cheltenham Festival, meaning his rating had jumped by another 10lb by the time the tapes went up at Aintree.
In truth, picking a Grand National winner does require as much good fortune as it does good research but even with that in mind, Telegraph Sport will do its utmost to find you a winner in April.
When are the weights for the Grand National and what do they mean?
The weights for the 2024 Randox Grand National have been revealed, with King George winner Hewick topping the charts. He will have to carry 11st 12lb should he line up at Aintree.
The Grand National is a handicap, meaning the horses will carry different weights depending on ability. The top-rated runner in the race will carry a weight of 11st 12lb, with the lowest-rated carrying 10st 2lb.
Unlike normal handicaps which are completely tied to official ratings, the Grand National is assessed as a standalone contest by the BHA handicappers. They have the job of merging the ratings of British and Irish challengers into one field. Official ratings do of course carry huge weight in these deliberations but factors such as course form and previous Grand National performance also come into this assessment.
The weights for this year’s race will be announced on February 20 and will be fixed until the race is run. This means rises or falls in a horse’s official rating will have no impact upon the weight they carry in the Grand National – something that Corach Rambler took advantage of in last year’s race.
Telegraph Sport’s ante-post tip
I Am Maximus should be of interest at around 25/1. Last year’s Irish Grand National winner has been allotted 11st 2lb by the handicapper and I like his chances off that mark.
He won a fairly weak Grade 1 novice chase earlier this season, after retaining that status from the previous campaign, but has since struggled when pitched into deep water against the very best staying chasers in Ireland.
Long-distance handicaps appear to be very much his game and after a powerful staying display to win at Fairyhouse last April, there can be little doubt about his ability to stay the extreme trip of 4m2½f at Aintree.
Hailing from the powerful stable of Willie Mullins, I Am Maximus looks to have had his season planned around a tilt at Aintree and you could be a lot worse than having a small wager on him for the race at this early stage.