While some of us study the form and others choose a favourite name or number, another way to pick your runner for the Grand National might be based on your favourite colour. But what are the odds of it winning?
Having looked back at the results from previous years, I have found that 26 of the last 40 renewals of the Grand National have seen jockeys sporting silks with either predominantly Green, Black or Blue colours.
Since 1995 Green, Green & Yellow and Green & White silks have won the race on 10 occasions with mainly black silks accounting for a further six wins.
The biggest priced winner in mostly green colours was Mon Mome who won at odds of 100/1 in 2009 – the biggest priced winner since Foinavon won at the same odds in 1967. His victory in 2009 was the second of his three runs in the race. The bay gelding finished 10th in 2008 but fell when defending his crown in 2010. Interestingly, he was the first French-bred horse to win the race for exactly 100 years with Lutteur III winning at odds of 100/9 in 1909.
Mon Mome was retired after running at Warwick in March 2013 at the age of 13. His trainer Venetia Williams said of him at the time: “He’s been an amazing horse to train and gave me the best day of my career when winning the Grand National.”
Running 40 times over fences Mon Mome won on six occasions including the Mildmay Chase at Aintree in 2006 and the Listed Boylepoker.com chase at the December meeting at Cheltenham. He amassed prize money totalling £753,621 in his career, including £704 for his only race on the Flat, when he finished second to Mason Des Bois in a maiden race in France in May 2004.
Pictured: In 2014, Pineau De Re was ridden by Leighton Aspell wearing Green & White (and Black!), at odds of 25/1.
The biggest priced recent winner sporting predominantly black colours was Silver Birch, the 2007 winner who was sent off at odds of 33/1.
Trained by Gordon Elliott in County Meath, Ireland he was the then 29-year-old trainer’s first runner in the race. Silver Birch had been trained previously by Paul Nicholls who achieved a hat-trick of wins with Ruby Walsh in the saddle during the 2004 season. In fact he only ran three times during the season winning a Class 3 Handicap Chase at Newton Abbot and the Becher Chase at Aintree in November before landing the Welsh Grand National on 28th December, beating Strong Resolve by 2 lengths when going off the 100/30 favourite.
He did not run again for 394 days and in his four runs for Nicholls in 2006 his form figures read 4th, Pulled Up, Pulled Up, Fell. His fall was in the Grand National won by Numbersixvalverde, at the infamous Chair fence. He was subsequently sold at the Doncaster Sales for £20,000. His new owner Brian Walsh, a County Meath farmer and stud owner said of his new horse, “Although Silver Birch looked A1 and was surprisingly cheap, he was in a right old state”.
Campaigned carefully throughout the 2006/07 season he ran twice at Punchestown and twice over the Cross Country course at Cheltenham finishing second at The 2007 Cheltenham Festival before taking his chance in the John Smith’s Grand National. The win was only Gordon Elliott’s fourth success as a trainer with all four winners coming in Britain.
His 2007 success was the last win Silver Birch achieved in his career and he was retired at the age of 13 after finishing twelfth in the 2010 renewal of the Grand National. He won six times over fences, and twice over hurdles in 29 races under rules, winning his owners £545,780 in the process.
The biggest priced winner in recent times wearing mainly blue silks was the 2013 winner Auroras Encore, winning at odds of 66/1 in 2013. The bay gelding was initially sold at the Tattersalls Ireland Sale in September 2003 for €7,000. Two years later he was bought by the veteran show jumper Harvey Smith in the Doncaster Sales for 9,500 Guineas. Brought back to their West Yorkshire yard, Auroras Encore was trained by Harvey’s wife Sue under the ownership of Alicia Skene.
He began his career in 2007, winning on his fifth start in a Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle at Sedgefield. His breakthrough win came at the Aintree Grand National Festival in 2008 when he won the Listed John Smith’s Handicap Hurdle at a starting price of 50/1. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly he ran at the festival two days later, finishing fifth in another Listed hurdle race, amassing over £35,000 in prize money in the process.
He began his chase career in inauspicious circumstances being pulled up in a novice event at Carlisle in December 2008. He won on his next start at Sedgefield just five days later. He subsequently won twice more from eight starts over fences before winning his first Listed race over fences at Uttoxeter in May 2010. Between then and his Grand National win in 2013 he ran 15 times over a combination of fences and hurdles winning just once.
His 2012/13 season did not go well until his National win. He ran five times between early November and the Grand National and the closest he came to the winner in any of his starts was 24 lengths.
So, it was no surprise whatsoever that Auroras Encore was considered as a 66/1 outsider. His trainer Sue Smith was only the third woman trainer to win the Grand National and his jockey Ryan Mania was riding in the race for the first time, after having given up his racing licence in 2011 after a crisis of confidence.
Auroras Encore ran 47 times under rules in National Hunt Flat races, Hurdlers and Chases. He won eight times and finished his career with prize money of £725,737.
So, we are left wondering what might be in this year’s renewal….!
The Randox Health Grand National Festival takes place at Aintree Racecourse from 12th–14th April 2018, book your tickets at http://aintree.thejockeyclub.co.uk