One week now remains before an estimated 500 million globally gather around their sets to watch Europe’s most valuable prize jump, and the betting public has already made up its mind about who it is backing for the 2019 Aintree Grand National.
With most British bookmakers quoting a miserly 7/2 on the outcome, hot favourite Tiger Roll will take life-time earnings through the £1 million barrier if he wins the 4 mile steeplechase.
However, with excellent form largely derived from the chase circuit – five placed finishes from twelve outings vs. only two from nine on hurdles – current prices appear to be a reflection of follow-the-crowd momentum rather than wisdom-of-the-crowd strategy.
And it is in that context that one horse in particular, Rock the Kasbah, may now have emerged as the favourite amongst value-bet hunters.
Ticking the Boxes
Trained by Phillip Hobbs, this Irish stallion has not only clocked up excellent life-time stats on hurdles – four wins from a total of ten outings – but he also ticks a number of other boxes that race statisticians have identified as stand-out characteristics from previous winners of the Grand National including age, Irish influence and recent form.
And since January, Rock the Kasbah’s odds for Aintree have fallen from 33/1 to a current 20/1 – the largest fall in odds amongst this year’s group of 40 contenders over the course of the current year, all the while ticking yet another box on the list of traits associated with a disproportionate number of track winners: price plummets.
For those with an eye on superstition, however, they may prefer to stay away from a horse whose cinematic namesake bombed at the box office in 2015 despite a star billing with Bill Murray, itself named after the Clash song of the same name which figured amongst the group’s less successful hits.