When it comes to horse racing, there are a lot of different considerations when you’re trying to whittle down your betting options, especially in the week of the Grand National.

Obviously, you have to look at the form of the runners, check if they have any proven stamina over longer distances, and put a big tick in the box if they’ve previously done well at Aintree or in the race itself.

What you also have to take into account is the going, which refers to the condition of the racecourse surface.

It’s an assessment of how hard or soft the ground is, and it can significantly affect how well different horses perform.

The going is determined by the amount of moisture in the ground and can range from hard (very dry) to heavy (very wet). So when it comes to horse racing betting, you need to check it and determine which horses will benefit from it and which won’t.

Terms Used To Describe The Going

Hard: A very firm and dry surface. Rarely used due to the risk of injury to horses.

Firm: A solid and dry surface with minimal give.

Good to Firm: A mostly firm surface with a slight amount of moisture, offering a bit of give underfoot.

Good: A balance between firm and soft, considered ideal by many, as it provides a fair surface for most horses.

Good to Soft: A surface with more moisture and give, which can start to slow down horses not suited for it.

Soft: A wet surface that provides significant give underfoot, requiring more effort from the horses to run.

Heavy Going: A very wet and soft surface that can be quite challenging and tiring for horses to navigate.

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at five horses who could do very well in the 2024 Grand National now that the going looks like it will be on the soft or heavy side of things.

Five Runners Who Could Benefit

In the context of the Grand National, most connections, when entering their horses, are hoping for good going. As mentioned above, it’s ideal for racing, and most run at their best when there’s a bit of give.

However, entries are submitted in January and without a crystal ball, there’s no way of knowing what the weather conditions will be when April rolls around. After all, Cheltenham this year was a washout!

Given that Aintree organisers have now advised the course is soft, heavy in places with further rain in the forecast, certain trainers will relish the trip as it gives their charges a better chance.

Nassalam

If there’s one horse who has proven capability on heavy going it is Nassalam from trainer Gary Moore.

He ran in the Grand Sefton at Aintree in November and finished fourth before heading to Chepstow for the Welsh Grand National Trial, which he duly won.

Just over two weeks later, he was back at Chepstow, winning the Welsh Grand National over 3m6½f on heavy ground.

He had a prep run in the Gold Cup in which he pulled up however, the speed of that race against a National is far faster and Aintree will better paced, allowing him to get into more of a rhythm, boosting his chances.

Mr Incredible

I Am Maximus may be Willie Mullins shortest priced runner in this year’s race, but it’s Mr Incredible that has all the experience when the ground is sodden.

Fresh off the back of the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter on March 16th, he is in flying form. He was second in that race, over 4m2f, which is as close to the Grand National distance as any race can get.

He was also carrying a whopping 12-00, more than a stone more than he set to run with at Aintree and even though he unseated in last year’s race, it was because the saddle slipped.

All things considered, he’s a solid option which is also why his odds keep shortening in the betting markets!

Limerick Lace

With a win in the Mares Chase at Cheltenham, Limerick Lace is one of three Gavin Cromwell trained runners and one of five from owner JP McManus.

Setting aside issues with the distance which may stretch her, she is incredibly proficient when the going is soft or heavy.

Whether or not she has the stamina to go the full four miles is questionable but the ground will certainly help her.

Meetingofthewaters

Another JP McManus runner, Meetingofthewaters is similar to Limerick Lace in that he is more than capable of having a great race on soft or heavy going but the distance may pose issues.

In his favor are his win in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown in the Christmas Festival and a third-place finish in the Ultima in Cheltenham, a race that has proved to be a great stepping stone for the National.

However, at seven years old, and with only six chase starts, the short odds being offered on him don’t reflect the number of obstacles he will have to overcome in order to run a winning race.

Galia Des Liteaux

Dan Skelton is a trainer on form and Galia Des Liteaux could very well be the horse that gets him over the line at Aintree.

Having just made the cut in 2024, and set to be ridden by Harry Skelton, a second place at Warwick in the Classic Handicap Chase in January over 3m5f on soft ground boosted not only his official rating but his chances in the Grand National.

If he can keep pace and avoid making many mistakes, then he could be the dark horse in the race.

The Importance of the Going

No more than you or I would want to race in a muddy field in the bucketing rain, neither do most horses. And just because they can, doesn’t mean it’s easy for them.

Soft or heavy going is caused by a lot of rain, making the course more challenging to run on. They need to put in more effort to lift their feet out of the softer ground, which can slow down those not suited to such conditions.

When the race is as long as the Grand National, that kind of effort gets tiring very quickly. In fact, in past Nationals, when the going was officially ‘heavy,’ less than half the field even finished the race.

In 2001, when Red Marauder won, only four finished the race, and as recently as 2018, when Tiger Roll won, only 12 finished. If the ground plays out as predicted this year, I can’t see more than 15 runners making it around the course.

Conclusion

In summary, the going at Aintree can greatly influence the outcome of the Grand National, benefiting some horses while disadvantaging others.

By understanding which types of horses are suited to soft or heavy ground, you can make more informed predictions about who might perform well in one of the most challenging races in the horse racing calendar.