Minimum Official Rating at the Grand National

The official rating (OR) of a horse is some mark of their quality, and is an ever changing figure based on their most recent form amongst other things. Of course, it is decided on by a team of humans, so the rating is still subjective, despite being based on the horse’s past performances.

The Grand National is the biggest and most challenging race in the British racing calendar, so it wouldn’t be fair or practical for any old horse to take part, and for this reason, there are certain criteria each horse must meet to qualify for consideration.

One of the criteria is a minimum rating, meaning only horses that have already tasted success and shown their quality can apply for the Grand National.

This, and other criteria, rule an awful lot of horses out, but there are still around 100 horses entered for consideration each year, before the final 34 horses (40 until 2024) are chosen along with a handful in reserve.

So there are a lot of boxes to tick before a horse can run the greatest race of them all, and their official rating is a key part of that.

Minimum Rating Changed for 2024

Grand National 2024 Logo

The 2024 Grand National saw quite a few different changes made, all in an attempt to make the race safer without sacrificing the spectacle of the day.

This included things like moving the first fence, reducing the maximum number of runners, and scrapping the parade, but another rule change pertained the the official rating required in order for a horse to take part.

Prior to this, any horse with a rating of 125 or more could potentially be selected to run the race, but the decision was taken to increase this number to 130, which would, in theory, mean that only more experienced and more capable horses would be able to take part.

Don’t forget though, that the OR for each horse is changing all the time, and sometimes the panel do get ahead of themselves – they are only human after all – so it is not a fool proof system.

The give this some context, for national hunt racing, the highest official rating is 170, and very few horses ever get anywhere close to it, so while a 130 minimum is high, there is still plenty of room for competition.

I should also point out, that while the handicappers rating is what I am talking about here, independent companies like Timeform and the Racing Post use their own rating systems, but these are not the official rating.

Will the Rating Change Make a Difference?

Aintree Racecourse 2022 ariel view
Aintree Racecourse

It remains to be seen.

We will need to see data from a sample size larger than a couple of years before making any serious conclusions.

Even then, what with all of the other changes made at the same time, it will be nigh on impossible to determine how much of any potential improvements are down to specific changes.

In my opinion, for what it’s worth, the rating change won’t make much difference at all.

Not that it isn’t a worthwhile step to take (and it is certainly simple enough to change), but I think any impact from this will be minimal.


Well, have a look at this information on the lowest official rating of horses running in the Grand National from 2014-2024:

Year Lowest Official Rating # Horses % of Field
2024 146 5 Horses 14.7%
2023 143 10 Horses 25%
2022 142 3 Horses 7.5%
2021 145 3 Horses 7.5%
2019 142 2 Horses 5%
2018 142 3 Horses 7.5%
2017 143 2 Horses 5%
2016 145 2 Horses 5%
2015 139 1 Horse 2.5%
2014 139 2 Horses 5%

*2020 race was cancelled

In the 10 years prior to the rule change, not a single horse was anywhere close to the minimum official rating of 125, nor to the new minimum of 130 for that matter.

With that in mind, how will this new rating change anything?

The average lowest rating between 2014-2024 was actually 142.6. Now that doesn’t take into account how many horses had that lowest rating, how many horses had ratings close to the lowest figure, or any other sort of data, but it does show that a minimum of 130 isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference to which horses end up running the race.