Spotlight on the Midlands Grand National
The Midlands Grand National is a Listed handicap Steeplechase run over a distance of 4 miles, 1 furlong and 110 yards, and since 1991, has been run on the Saturday straight after the Cheltenham Festival.
Because of the proximity of Uttoxeter from Cheltenham, many racegoers, especially the Irish add an extra day onto their racing holiday to swell the bumper crowd on the day.
Since 1969 the Midlands Grand National has been the jewel in the crown of horse racing within the region. The atmosphere is always one of excitement and anticipation as people await the biggest raceday in the Midlands. That excitement is always fueled by the action witnessed throughout the previous Cheltenham Festival week.
The inaugural race took place five weeks after the Grand National and all eyes were on Highland Wedding, who had won at Aintree. However, Highland Wedding ran a lackluster race and was pulled up with the race going to the 13-year-old Happy Spring.
Some interesting facts on the race include:
- Widest winning margin – Another Excuse (1996) – distance.
- Leading trainer– David Pipe Minella Four Star (2011), Master Overseer (2012), Big Occasion (2013), Goulanes (2014).
- Narrowest winning margin – Fighting Chance (1974), Knock Hill (1988) – head.
- Most runners – 22, in 1978, 1979 and 1981.
- Fewest runners – 6, in 2000.
Here are some trends and statistics based on the last ten renewals of the race:
The last ten winners were aged six to nine years.
The record of horses ages ten years and over in this race is extremely poor over the past ten years. There are five horses entered that fall into this age bracket.
Horses carrying 10st 10lb or above: 2-7-54
Horses carrying 10st 9lb or below: 8-20-108
As you can see the ten year trend favours the lower weights in the field and the top weights struggle with Uttoxeter’s pretty demanding going over this extreme distance.
With drying ground all this week there may be more horses completing the course this year with the higher weights.
6/10 winners finished in the first three in their last completed start.
10/10 winners had run over 3m+.
9/10 winners were having their first ever run at Uttoxeter.
David Pipe (4-1-9) has trained four winners of the last five winners of this race. He was without a runner in 2015 but this year he has entered two runners
Jonjo O’Neill (1-1-8) had the winner in 2010 with Synchronised.
Venetia Williams (0-2-10) is usually well represented in the race but has only managed to saddle two place runners.
There are no significant price trends over the last ten years and the favourite has won just twice in that time.
Midlands Grand National 2015 summary
It is very interesting that David Pipe missed the Kim Muir & Fulke Walwyn Chase at Cheltenham in favour of running his top-weighted KATKEAU in this marathon test today. Katkeau was last seen when running a distant third behind Sew On Target on bottomless ground at Wetherby. You can easily forgive that run as the going today will be very much more in his favour and if he puts in a performance anything like he showed at Ludlow in December he is a leading player here.
David Pipe’s association with this race is second to none and after a one year hiatus it would be no surprise to see him come back with yet another Saturday afternoon big race winner. Tom Scudamore is due to ride and he will be brimming with riding confidence after his exploits at the Cheltenham Festival this week.
Evan Williams’ FIREBIRD FLYER went up in the handicap after the sterling work he put in at the end of the Welsh Grand National to get within two and three-quarter lengths of the winner Mountainous. The nine-year-old has had a well deserved break of seventy days since then and could give another good account of himself here for the Llancarfan trainer.
Uttoxeter fancies through the card:
1.50 Uttox- Ballyoptic (win).
2.25 Uttox- Jokers And Rogues & Justatenner (e/w).
3.00 Uttox- Smooth Stepper (e/w).
3.35 Uttox- Poker School & Palm Grey (e/w).
4.10 Uttox- Katkeau & Firebird Flyer (e/w).
4.45 Uttox- Special Wells & One For The Boss (e/w).
5.20 Uttox- Amber Flush (e/w).
5.55 Uttox- Mr Big Shot & Gasoline (e/w).
Another Excuse wins the feature race 20 years ago today.