Home » Grand National ‘jumpability’ ratings – who are the best and worst jumpers in the Grand National?

Grand National ‘jumpability’ ratings – who are the best and worst jumpers in the Grand National?

Timeform’s Graeme North takes a look at the best and worst jumpers in this year’s Randox Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.

The domestic turf programme has been badly affected these last couple of weeks with those turf tracks that haven’t been forced to abandon often scraping through morning inspections, and next week’s fixture at Newton Abbot has been cancelled already.

With the ground on the Grand National course already described as Soft (Heavy in places) with a GoingStick reading that promises to head south of 3.0, it might not be Animal Rising that causes disruption this year but overnight rainfall. Hopefully all goes ahead as planned, and, who knows, we might even get a bit of low sun (remember that?).

Interestingly, data shows that it’s not only the Grand National fences that have become easier to jump than those in seasons gone by. Indeed, using a three-year rolling average, the percentage of falls and unseats has fallen consistently from 9.7% of all runners over fences in Britain and Ireland in the years between 2009 and 2011 to 5.9% in the years between 2022 and 2024. Being in the forefront of worldwide media glare every year, Aintree is one course that has made changes to its fences on the National course public knowledge as it has sought to quell those who argued the course was too demanding.

Those changes have clearly had the desired impact with the proportion of falls and unseats in all races contested over the National fences dropping from approaching 40% in 2010 and 2011 to around 20% nowadays. Where falls once accounted easily for the biggest proportion of non-completions unseats are now the dominant statistic with falls dropping as low as 6% in 2022.

Against that conciliatory background and the reduction in field size to 34 runners it may seem an odd choice to reintroduce a topic that I’ve aired many times before, jumpability, but the prospect of soft or heavy ground for the first time since 2018 when only 12 of the 38 that started finished and 11 either came down or unseated suggests that jumping ability will play a bigger part in the outcome than it has in the years since.

For those readers unfamiliar with the concept, ‘jumpability’ is an attempt to assign a ‘jumping’ rating to a chaser that expresses jumping prowess, much as a form rating expresses merit, and is calculated by utilising jumping-related data that exists within the Timeform database (such as an x for a poor round or a j for a good round) and then applying that data to the tracks where those runs took place before finally factoring conditions on the day.

Without divulging the exact methodology that underpins the process ‘jumpability’ ratings are prompted by allotting a neutral value to the horse if they had neither an x nor j in-play symbol for a particular race and didn’t fall or unseat, a negative value if they unseated or fell or were given an x or X and a positive value if they didn’t fall or unseat and were given a j or a J.

The resultant scores are then averaged across the horse’s career over fences with adjustments made for horses that have raced fewer than ten times in the discipline so not to mis-label a horse as an exceptionally good or bad jumper after just a handful of starts. The best jumpers of the past decade or so such as Sprinter Sacre and Altior have figures approaching 100 while the worst jumpers will have figures approaching -100.

The first thing to note about the jumpability ratings for the 2024 Grand National (top 10 best and worst still engaged are shown below) is that while there are a couple of horses who score well, there is no outstandingly good jumper in the field but no exceptionally poor one either.

That said, those who fancy the 2023 Irish Grand National winner I Am Maximus, and there will be plenty of them given his record on heavy ground, might be anxious to see him adrift at the bottom of the ratings with his -29 score considerably lower than his nearest rival.

His supporters will point to his never having fallen or unseated in nine races over fences, all of which have taken place at Fairyhouse, Leopardstown and Cheltenham, three of the toughest jumping tests around, but a plethora of x’s attached to his internal Timeform in-play symbols suggest his jumping is a negative. Few in the field can boast his upward profile or ability to dismiss Grade 1 horses at two and a half miles while possessing also the necessary stamina in bucketloads, but it’s a niggle that I’d rather not be there if backing a horse at 7/1 in, as seems likely, a 34-runner field.

The other talking point from the jumpability ratings is the horse with the best rating – Shakem Up’Arry – is a horse whose stamina has to be taken completely on trust. He’s been largely foot perfect since unseating on his debut at Ffos Las as a novice, earning six j’s during that time including a large J when scoring at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, but Timeform have twice noted over the longest trips he has encountered that he was running on fumes at the end and there won’t be any hiding place if conditions turn out as testing as feared. He needs five horses to come out to make the cut for the National, but also holds an entry in the Topham Chase, which is contested over a shorter trip, on Friday.

On the contrary, the other horse with a high jumpability rating, Coko Beach, one of nine horses trained by Gordon Elliott who is guaranteed to get a run, will have conditions to suit. That’s enough initially for me to warm to his chances given he’s looked better than ever this season but given he’s been beaten off marks of 150 (eighth) and 155 (pulled up) in the race previously then defying a mark of 161 here will demand the sort of gargantuan effort I’m not sure he has in him.

2023 winner Corach Rambler has been all the rage in the betting since his fine effort in the Gold Cup which came on ground that his connections have been clear they think doesn’t suit ideally.

His form this season looks to be about 10lb better than it was at the same stage in 2023, so it might yet be that a 13lb rise in his BHA mark won’t stop him, but he’ll surely start bigger odds on the day than the 5/1 he is currently generally trading at. 2023 runner-up Vanillier scores well on the jumpability ratings, not least if you restrict those of his races over fences to those beyond three miles on soft or heavy ground, and he has been trained all season with this race in mind. The ground should ensure he doesn’t get as far behind as last year but he was walloped by I Am Maximus in his last race when connections would surely have been expecting better, albeit he has reportedly schooled very well since over the National lookalike fences available at the Curragh training establishment.

Hopefully readers will be interested to know which horses have caught my eye and among those guaranteed a run I’ll put forward Mr Incredible and Mahler Mission.

Mr Incredible has had something of an eventful career so far but in five starts joining Willie Mullins other than when either being brought down or unseating (in this race last year through no fault of his own after his saddle slipped at the Canal Turn) he has finished second of 12 (in the Midlands Grand National on his recent reappearance), third of twenty-three and second of thirteen and never beaten more than six lengths each time.

He comes out easily in the top half on jumpability ratings and has the profile of the more lightly-raced, younger type that has come to the fore in the last couple of seasons.

Mahler Mission scores much more highly when you consider only his races at three miles and beyond in soft or heavy ground than he does on his overall figures and looks to have been kept fresh for this not having run since the Coral Trophy in December. He scores highly despite having a fall against his name when still well clear in front two out in the 2023 National Hunt Challenge Cup when looking likely (to me) to have held on.

If there’s a horse not yet guaranteed to make the cut but who make some appeal if he did, and at a big price too, it’s Desertmore House. He’s trained by a top target trainer in Martin Brassil and was jumping like an old hand when well backed and well on top in two chases in late summer/early autumn on soft ground, including the Kerry National. He’s been easy to back in two races over fences either side of the New Year but caught the eye over hurdles last time, a time-honoured preparation used successfully many times before, and he’ll relish the trip.

Top 10 best jumpability ratings

Shakem Up’Arry 43
Coko Beach 36
Latenightpass 27
Minella Indo 27
Good Boy Bobby 26
Desertmore House 24
Galia Des Liteaux 23
Limerick Lace 23
Mac Tottie 23
Eldorado Allen 22

Top 10 worst jumpability ratings

I Am Maximus -29
Foxy Jacks -18
Farouk D’Alene -17
Tullybeg -14
Janidil -11
Famous Bridge -8
Chambard -6
Ontheropes -6
Run Wild Fred -6
Chemical Energy -5

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