The Grand National is the important handicap in European jump racing so it comes as no surprise that the weights have always played a major factor. With prize money up to £1 million and an estimated audience of around 600 million it further backs up how big the event is on a whole. Following the positive move to compress the handicap it has certainly given the race a new look and a far more level playing field. This has firstly resulted in a far classier contest with horses being a lot more competitive off the bigger weights than in the past, and not having to give lumps of weight away to the horses are the bottom of the handicap.
One horse that has been on the radar for the race since last year is the Nigel Twiston Davies trained Blaklion. The best Grand National odds online have him at 12/1 for the race. The 9 year old has always been a high class stayer that has included a hard fought victory in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham festival back in 2016. He went into the 2017 Grand National fancied by many and came in for a lot of support on the day and was sent off as the 8/1 favourite. He travelled and jumped so well throughout before being committed for home. Blaklion went clear and looked set to cash in only to be caught by some of the stronger finishers between the last two fences. If he was ridden differently this could have been a different result for connections.
Blaklion then returned at the start of the season with a solid second place finish in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby to stablemate Bristol De Mai. His next start was again over the famous Aintree fences was in the Becher Chase where he was taking on the 2016 Grand National runner up The Last Samuri. He put in a faultless performance to win easily by 9 lengths, firmly stamping himself as the one to beat for the 2018 National. Blaklion’s most recent start was in the Grand National Trial at Haydock on very heavy ground. He failed to handle it but stayed on for 2nd as one of only three finishers. He has now been kept fresh and heads for the National as one of the key contenders. Check out the infographic below which covers all you need to know about the Grand National weights in the past and ahead of the 2018 running of the race.