Grand National winner revealed: How to pick the champion by its name
The experts here have been poring over the form and the stats but, for those of us who will be picking with a pin, here’s a guide to help you sort out your Many Clouds and your Silviniaco Conti from your Aintree rank outsiders.
For those of us who don’t know our first-time blinkers from our claiming jockeys, there are few better guides than the most obvious one: what is the horse’s name, and do you like it?
Here’s our first tip: pick a horse with a two-word name. Ideally, a really easy to remember one, like Terry Smith or Sandra Jones. Sadly, no horses in this years’ Crabbie’s Grand National are called that.
BUT in the last 100 runnings of the race, the winner has had a two-word name on 52 occasions. That means you have a 52% certainty of winning if you pick a horse with a two-word name. Kind of.
Horses with three-word names, like for instance You Useless Nag, have a terrible record: these triple-monikered fools have won only five times in 100 years, which is probably good news for the poor commentators trying to get their words out. Single-word horse names, such as Horse, do okay. 43 wins out of a hundred. But still not as well as your two-worders.
On that basis, we can rule out. Ballynagour, Gilgamboa, Holywell, Shutthefrontdoor, Soll, Buywise, Aachen, Goonyella, Unioniste, Onenightinvienna, Kruzhlinin, Katenko, Ballycasey and Pendra, for having too few names.
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And we can rule out: On His Own, The Druids Nephew, Sir Des Champs, The Last Samuri, Rule The World, Just A Par, Vieux Lion Rouge and The Romford Pele for having too many names.
Meaning that our four-legged, two-name heroes are: Many Clouds, Silviniaco Conti, First Lieutenant, Wonderful Charm, O'Faolains Boy, Triolo D'Alene, Rocky Creek, Boston Bob, Morning Assembly, Double Ross, Le Reve, Vics Canvas, Black Thunder, Hadrian's Approach Saint Are and Home Farm.
In a development that will please Brexiters, it would seem that having a foreign name is a bad sign. This is an English race for English people. Only 13 winners in the last 100 runnings have had a suspiciously continental flavour and were probably more interested in banning bent bananas than jumping over the famous Aintree fences.
On that basis, Silviniaco Conti, Triolo D'Alene, Le Reve and Hadrian's Approach can definitely do one, and we probably have to take the harsh view on lovely Irish contender O'Faolains Boy. Sorry, O'Faolains Boy.
Rocky Creek also goes, on account of being an Italian Stallion.
That leaves us with: Many Clouds, First Lieutenant, Wonderful Charm, Boston Bob, Morning Assembly, Double Ross, Vics Canvas, Black Thunder, Saint Are and Home Farm.
Horses with human names in their title, if you see what I mean, have a pretty solid record: 12 wins. So tet’s get rid of the non-human horses. Sayonara Many Clouds, First Lieutenant, Wonderful Charm, Morning Assembly, Black Thunder, Saint Are and Home Farm.
That leaves us with Boston Bob, Vics Canvas and Double Ross. Boston Bob, incidentally, can consider himself pretty lucky to have come through the round before last, because Boston is a foreign place name.
But we did offer Bob the right to reply before publishing this article and he said that he was named after the place in Lincolnshire, not the one in Massachusetts. Fair play to you Bob, you made your case well, especially as you’re a horse and have only the most rudimentary grasp of either geography or the legal process.
You’re still in this, Bob. Help yourself to a carrot. Anyway, how to choose between Boston Bob, Vics Canvas and Double Ross?
No horse unable to use punctuation correctly has won in the last 100 runnings. Sorry, Vics Canvas, but if 1948 winner Sheila’s Cottage and 2003 hero Monty’s Pass could be bothered to get their apostrophe sorted, there’s no reason you couldn’t.
Vics Canvas, you’re out of here. Take your slapdash approach the possessive with you. That leaves us Boston Bob and Double Ross.
It’s a photo finish, but no horse with Bob in its name has ever won (the closest being Bobbyjo in 1999) but we have had a previous winner with a Double in its name. That was 1925’s Double Chance and so, by the narrowest of margins, we can declare that the horse who will absolutely, definitely, certainly win the 2016 Crabbie’s Grand National is DOUBLE ROSS.