Picking a winner in the Grand National isn’t easy. On the difficulty scale, it ranks slightly above ‘getting Jose Mourinho to stop staring lovingly at himself in the mirror’ but slightly below ‘getting a sensible statement out of Boris Johnson’.
The 2015 edition of the Grand National promises to be no different. 40 horses, 30 fences, the guts of five miles of racing – add in some loose horses and the element of luck and you’ve got a real puzzler. A puzzler of ‘why does anyone Nicolas Cage still get acting roles?’ proportions.
In the last six years, we’ve seen winners at odds of 100/1, 66/1, 33/1 and 25/1. And the only favourite that won during that spell was still fairly tasty 10/1. Faced with such a choice of potential winners, it’s sometimes worth taking that form book and doing something more useful with it – fashioning a makeshift hat out of it if you’re caught in an unexpected rain shower or the like.
Sometimes the best approach is to let logic take a sensible hike and go on your gut instinct. Two of the most popular methods of doing this are choosing based on your favourite colour and/or your lucky number. But even in these seemingly random ways, are there some trends which can validate our vague intangible feelings? Because you’re probably not arsed, we’ve looked through the last 50 years of Grand National winners to find out.
The Punters’ Palette
A decent range of colours have been carried to Grand National glory over the last half a century. We haven’t gone into Dulux levels of detail with the colours. They might call something ‘Moroccan Volcanic Sunset Eggshell Reflection 4’, we’ve just lumped it into the ‘Red’ category.
The colours are based on the main colour of the silks worn by the winning jockey of each year. A lot of silks will feature more than one colour, but we’ve gone with the dominant colour for the sake of our numbers. In few cases were the two colours are evenly split, we’ve included them both in our figures (hence they don’t add up to 50).
After all those surprisingly necessary caveats, green is the colour that leads the way. And by a comfortable distance. It’s called the colour of envy largely because of the other jockeys looking enviously as the victor passes the winning post. That may not be strictly accurate, but it should be because … well facts.
The greens lead on 13 wins and the closest challengers are the colours we’ve lumped into the reds and the blues – both of which have a grand total of nine wins each. In what sounds like Nick Griffin’s worst nightmare, blacks outnumber whites seven wins to six, with yellows not far behind on five (in conjunction with green three times). It lo0ks like grey and purple are bringing up the rear, but it’s important to remember that they’ve been carried to victory three times – and that’s three times more than let’s say orange or babypuke.
Can You Digit?
Everyone has a lucky number. Based on your birthday, house number or age you lost virginity (ah – sweet 36 … about 4% of the time, you never let me down) – whatever method you choose, there’s always one number that you gravitate towards in a random numbers-based contest. We won’t know what numbers are allocated to what horses until the Thursday afternoon just over 48 hours before the big race, but for some people, that won’t matter at all.
Somewhat looking dangerously like a trend, almost 60% of Grand National winners over the last 50 years have had numbers between one and 11. That may sound pretty vague, but if you consider that there have typically been 40 or more runners in a lot of Grand Nationals, that implies that horses in roughly the top quarter of the racecard have won about 60% of Grand Nationals over the course of the last 50 years. Not completely to be sniffed at.
The most successful winning number over the last half century has been six courtesy of seven wins in the last 49 editions of the race. That’s essentially pure chance. Even allowing for the trend towards numbers between 1 and 11, six shouldn’t appear that frequently. It’s not one commonly associated with luck, but who cares if it lands you a big price winner in the National. LUCKY NUMBER 6!! Sling your hook seven – never really liked you anyway after the story we heard about you viciously devoured nine back in playschool.
If you’re that way inclined, but the average and the median of all the winning numbers over the last 50 years is 13. That’s more associated with an absence of luck and probably not a hugely popular selection based blindly on randomness. The number has only been successful once during that time-frame, but the assortment of numbers put it smack bang in the centre of the mathematical chicanery.