Grand National 2024 tips: How to the pick the winner and the best ante-post bet

Derek Fox on Corach Rambler clears the Chair fence to win the Grand National horse race at Aintree Racecourse Liverpool, England, Saturday, April 15, 2023
Corach Rambler (centre) won last year's Grand National, benefitting from a huge improvement in form after the weights were announced - AP Photo/Jon Super

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 obviously 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 and cruised 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.

This year, he is likely to be in a similar position following a third-placed finish in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

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.

What 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 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 were 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.

Marcus Armytage tip

Corach Rambler’s odds halved after his Gold Cup third but 5-1 is skinny for any horse, even one which is officially well 3lbs in so, at this stage, and unless it becomes more of a thing with the modern National, two time winners have tended to be once a generation.

He has an each-way chance but I would not be looking any further than I Am Maxmius. He is set to carry the same weight and, after giving Vanillier 12lbs and a 14 length beating in the Bobbyjo Chase in his warm up for this, he looks 6lbs well in on his new official Irish rating.

He was an Irish National winner on only his fifth start over fences and although Paul Townened had to get after him early on, it only looked like he was warming up from two out at Fairyhouse so the trip does not look a problem. Before winning the Bobbyjo this season he has been finishing within hailing distance of Galopin Des Champs.

I am afraid there is not much fairytale attached – often a prerequisite for a National winner – as both Willie Mullins and JP McManus, who bought him last spring, have won the race although it would be a first for whoever rides him. My head is ruling my heart though and I am sure he will start shorter on the day.

Telegraph Sport’s tips

The changing nature of the Grand National – easier jumping test, smaller field etc – does mean horses of better quality will continue to rise to the top.

As such, backing horses at short odds is going to become more commonplace and therefore you should not be put off backing Corach Rambler at 6/1 to win back-to-back Grand Nationals.

It’s heard to overemphasise how impressive his third-placed finish in the Cheltenham Gold Cup reads in the context of this race and he is surely going to have weight in hand from the handicapper when his official mark is re-assessed in the coming days.

We already know his aptitude for this course and trip and given better ground conditions than he encountered at Cheltenham, he must have a massive chance.

There are risks attached of course, the National course of Aintree still presents a stern test compared to normal chase tracks, but it is tough to imagine a scenario in which Corach Rambler gets a clear round and is not in there or thereabouts in the closing stages.

  • Already advised: I Am Maximus at 25/1 (now 12/1)