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Evidence 1, McCririck 0

My evidence-based prediction of the Grand National results had so many positive comments. I’ve had people I don’t know on Twitter ask how I’d got on and people retweeting my original blog, saying they liked the idea. Friends thought it was a cool plan too and some even took my advice. BBC Radio York were very impressed with my dedication to the cause as well. 16.15 on Saturday and I sat down to watch the race with my family, feeling rather nervous. You can practically see the tension in my eyes.

So how did I do? Well out of the 10 I picked, one fell and one was bought down. Yes, I admit my system has its flaws. But the other 8 finished. And they finished 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 12th, 14th and 17th. That’s right, I predicted 5 of the top 7 placed horses!! I know what you’re thinking. Prove it, Buckley! Well I just will. I know it looks weird on 2 slips. Why didn’t I put them all on one, I hear you ask? Well, if you read the original blog, I was only going to bet on 8 horses. But I simply couldn’t rule out the other two, so they ended up on another betting slip with the horses the rest of my family had chosen. Note Santa’s Son on the righthand slip- my Dad’s choice. This horse was actually winning for part of the race and at 150-1, the Milkybars would’ve been on him.

I didn’t win a lot of money, that wasn’t really the point. If anyone tells you scientists are rolling in it then they’re either very lucky or they’re telling porkies. I forked out £20 of my own money on this little escapade but my winnings totalled £31.50. I know some Bookmakers were paying out on places 1 to 5. Betfred, the big meanies, didn’t. But if they had, I’d have almost doubled my money. A victory for evidence-based prediction!

It took up a whole evening to profile the past winners and cross reference them with the 40 runners in the 2011 race, but I like doing random stuff like this. Obviously, I’d have to replicate my results next year to have any sort of scientific credence but currently, I’m happy with my 100 % success rate. But it’s not in my nature to leave stuff like this alone. I’m currently working out the differences between the horses that finished in the top 5 and those that didn’t. What features did they possess that made them winners?

It was an interesting experience and a world I only dipped my toe into. So would I do it again? Definitely!

Can you ever beat the bookies?

Can you statistically predict who’s going to win The Grand National this weekend? I have to be totally honest, I don’t know a great deal about horseracing so rather than studying the form, I study similarities in previous winners. Even though on the surface the race seems quite random, there are distinct trends that you can follow to narrow the field of 40 runners down into a more manageable number.

Firstly, it’s important to take into consideration the age of the horse. When you start to look at past winners, you notice immediately that horses that do well are aged between 8 and 12. In fact, it’s 70-odd years that a horse younger than 8 won The Grand National. Generally they’re ruled out by their lack of experience regarding stamina. The peak age of winners seems to be 9 and 10. So, and this is a real tricky one, in order to cut the field down to a manageable number, I’ve only focussed on the horses aged 9 to 11. Probability states that’s horses aged outside of this are less likely to win.

The second factor to look for is stamina. So, I need my horse to have won over at least three miles recently. All of the last eleven winners did so all the horses that have raced over short distances are mercilessly cut too from my list too. And, obvious as it sounds, they need to be able to jump so horses that haven’t been in steeplechase races recently are cut. Also, a potential winner needs staying power. Generally, horses that have either unseated their riders or fallen a couple of times in their racing career won’t win the National. So usual fallers have to be discounted too.

Class is another important factor. Prior to last year, all of the previous ten winners had either won or were well placed in a Class 1 race. So you need to look at other Nationals; the English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh or Kerry Nationals. Roughly 80% of the winners in the previous few years not only raced but were placed in the top 3 in any these Nationals.

Now onto weight. You’ll have probably heard of a handicap relating to weight. Handicaps are races which contains horses of varying levels of ability- the idea being that the better horses in the race carry more weight than the poorer ones so in theory, all horses have an equal chance of winning. Looking at the past few Grand Nationals, any horse carrying from 10 stone 4lb to  11 stone 5lb seem statistically more likely to win. So they’re my limits too.

Before I forget there’s one last thing to narrow the field down further. Apart from a couple of years ago, French horses tend not to do so well. So discounting French horses, bad jumpers, non-finishers, horses with lack of recent racing experience, horses that haven’t been part of long races of late and horses that haven’t done well in a big race leaves us with 8. That’s just 8 out of 40. A mere 20% of the original field based purely on statistics. These 8 horses, I believe, are more likely to win. And here they are, with their latest odds.

BLUESEA CRACKER (25-1)

CHIEF DAN GEORGE (40-1)

STATE OF PLAY (25-1)

WEST END ROCKER (33-1)

OSCAR TIME (12-1)

NORTHERN ALLIANCE (??)

ARBOUR SUPREME (20-1)

SILVER BY NATURE (14-1)

You’d be a fool to take my word on any of this. What do I know about horseracing? But I wonder if any of these 8 horses will do well at the weekend? There’s only one way to find out. I will put my money where my mouth is. I’m going to put a £1 each way bet on all of these horses (£16 total spend). Wonder how much money I’ll lose? Care to bet on it?

UPDATE ON 08/04/11 – Northern Alliance isn’t even racing. This does not bode well for the patented Buckley Betting Technique. Let’s maximise our chances here. I’m going to substitute Northern Alliance for another. Horses I ruled out in the later stages of my rubbish system were Ballabriggs (14-1), Big Fella Thanks (16-1) and Niche Market (20-1) so I’ll go for one of these in its place. I’m not sure which yet but to prove I’m true to my word, I’ll post a picture of my betting slip (along with my sad face at losing £16).