And this year's Grand National winner is… Cambridge maths whizz reveals winning formula ahead of Aintree race
10:48 GMT, 2 April 2013
13:17 GMT, 2 April 2013
A University of Cambridge maths whizz is backing Seabass in Saturday’s Grand National – after creating a formula that predicts the winning horse.
William Hartston, 65, forensically examined the names and ages of all victorious nags from the event’s 174 year history.
And he discovered winners are most likely to have names that are just one word, and begin with S, R, M, or C.
Racing ahead: Seabass, with Katie Walsh on board, is methematician William Hartson's pick for the National
THE FORMULA IN FULL
Number of letters in the horse’s name
8, 10 = 4 points
7 = 3 points
6, 11 = 2 points
9, 12 = 1 point
First letter of horse’s name
R = 4 points
A, S, M = 3 points
C, T = 2 points
G, B, W = 1 point
Number of words in horse’s name
1 = 4 points
2 = 3 points
3 = 2 points
4 = 1 point
Age of horse
9 = 4 points
10 = 3 points
8, 11 = 2 points
12 = 1 point
The 9 highest-scoring horses based on the William Hartston scoring system
1. Seabass 13/16 (consistently high in all categories)
2. Tatenen 13/16
3. Teaforthree 12/16
4. Rare Bob 12/16
5. Mr Moonshine 12/16
6. Romanesco 11/16
7. Sunnyhillboy 11/16
8. Quel Esprit 11/16
9. Any Currency 11/16
Furthermore, the names usually consist of eight or ten letters – closely followed by seven or 11 – and the horses are typically nine or ten years old.
Mr Hartston used these results to develop a scoring system, which allowed him to rate the 40 horses that will line-up at Aintree Racecourse on Saturday.
He will now back the bookies’ 9/1 second favourite Seabass after it scored an impressive 13 points out of a maximum 16 on his scale.
The Ted Walsh-trained Irish racehorse begins with S, is a one-word name, aged ten years, and has seven letters.
It was followed by Tatenen and Teaforthree in the study commissioned by bookies William Hill.
Mr Hartston – author of several books, including The Book of Numbers – graduated from the University of Cambridge with an MA or Master of Maths.
The mathematician examined four criteria – number of letters in the horse’s name, first letter of name, number of words in the name, and age.
He then awarded each horse a maximum of four points for each of these criteria, depending on how closely they fit the historic results.
For example, a horse whose name is eight or ten letters long – the most successful in the history of the race – are awarded four points.
But a horse with nine or twelve letters – historically less successfully – are awarded just one point.
Mr Hartston said: 'Seabass is the only horse with consistently high scores across all four criteria. It begins with S, is a one-word name, aged ten years and has seven letters, which is only slightly short of the preferred eight.
'Tatenen scored an impressive 13/16 while Teaforthree scored 12/16 and
shouldn’t be ruled out – but their scoring pattern is less consistent.'
Ready and waiting: 14/1 shot Teaforthree, in training last week, also features highly on Hartson's list