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Is form that important when picking a winner for the Grand National?

Aintree Grand National 2013

"Aintree Grand National 2013" (CC BY 2.0) by stacey.cavanagh

Spring is in the air and that means the Grand National is almost upon us. Millions of people will tune in by being glued to their television, computer or tablet screens to watch horse and jockey go for glory.

The meet is currently being whittled down to 40 horses to compete for the most prestigious honour in the sport, with over 80 vying for a place on the starting line come April 8th.

The field will have been boosted by the fact that one of the strongest contenders for the crown, Minella Rocco, will not race, opening up the path for an outsider to triumph at Aintree.

All the talk for the next few weeks will be dominated by form and past performances at the course.

However, due to the unpredictability of the race and the displays of former winners, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take a long scan at every single runner in the Grand National betting odds from Paddy Power.

We’ll now take a look at the past three champions of the race to see whether form is all that it’s cracked up to be heading into the meet.

Rule The World – 2016

The bay gelding produced an incredible performance at Aintree to stun his rivals, making a late surge down the straight to secure the crown.

The victory was surprising as it had been two years since Rule The World had last won a contest, which occurred in January 2014 at Naas in the Limestone Lad Hurdle.

That being said, he had shown some indication that he could pull off the feat by notching six second-place finishes in 2015, although only one of those was facing significant competition in the Irish Grand National Chase.

Rule The World had not previously competed at Aintree and had odds of 33-1 to pull off the victory. However, he shocked the world with a brilliant run, finishing comfortably ahead of The Last Samuri.

Many Clouds – 2015

The brown gelding proved to be another outside runner that shocked the leading contenders for the crown, with a fine performance down the stretch.

Unlike Rule The World, Many Clouds had hinted that a strong display was in the offing for some time, recording three victories on the bounce towards the end of 2014 and the start of 2015, including at Cheltenham in the Cup Chase.

However, he finished sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, failing to live up to expectations in the race as Coneygree claimed the win.

Trainer Oliver Sherwood and jockey Leighton Aspell managed to learn lessons from their poor outing and bounced backed with a flawless display to take the crown at Aintree, with the 40-year-old notching his second win in the meet on the spin.

A solid run at the Premier Chase last year hinted that back-to-back triumphs at the Grand National could be possible for Many Clouds, only for him to produce a tepid display and finishing in 16th – once again proving the unpredictability of the meet.

Pineau De Re – 2014 Aspell’s first success at the Grand National came on the French horse, as he came late through the field to win the race with an impressive run down the straight.

Once again, the triumph did not seem on the cards, after the bay gelding was edged out of the Network Final at Cheltenham a month beforehand.

Pineau De Re did have seven wins under his belt before the race at Aintree, although only three came within the year before claiming victory in the Grand National.

His only previous race at Aintree had ended in a fall at the Becher Handicap Chase, highlighting the difficulty in predicting a potential winner at the upcoming race.

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