Many Clouds the best equipped since Red Rum to defend National

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Since 1870, only two horses have managed to successfully defend the Grand National – Reynoldstown in 1935 and 1936 and Red Rum in 1973 and 1974.

The following shows all of the horses that have attempted to follow suit this century, alongside their official rating, the weight they had to carry and their finishing position.

Grand-National-repeat-winners

What can be immediately noticed is how much harder a winner has it when they return to Aintree in the hope of repeating their victory.

Unsurprisingly, they don’t seem so well handicapped when chasing a second victory, as their official rating has almost certainly risen, which brings with it a hike in weight.

Monty’s Pass, Hedgehunter and Don’t Push It were all in the top couple in the weights upon their returns and made valiant attempts to do the double.

However, it is now becoming easier for horses at the head of the weights to win the Grand National.

In an attempt to make the race fairer, head handicapper Phil Smith compresses the weights slightly at the top, meaning that those with the highest official ratings tend to be a few lbs better off than they would be for a typical handicap.

Meanwhile, with the constant debates about horse safety in recent years, the Aintree fences have become much easier to negotiate. The drops on the landing side are less steep and they are generally a bit smaller and less stiff to touch.

What this has meant is that jumping is no longer the biggest attribute to seek from a Grand National winner. Classier horses with superior ratings are slowly starting to get on top and more of those with higher official ratings are being entered compared to the past.

Many Clouds is one such example, with his victory in 2015 coming despite an official rating of 160. To show the handicapper’s weight adjustment, the horse was rated 165 only a couple of weeks previous when sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The big point to make about Many Clouds is that if he returns to defend his National crown in 2016, it won’t be the burden of additional weight that scuppers his chances.

He ran off 11st 9lb this year and the maximum top weight is 11st 10lb. All the handicapper can realistically do and surely will do is put him up this extra 1lb, which shouldn’t emphatically damage his chances.

Many Clouds is 25/1 to win the 2016 Grand National and taking everything into account, he has to have a better chance than the majority, if not all, to have attempted to defend their crown since Red Rum.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.