Will Coleen still be smiling if the Dude wins the National?

Coleen Rooney (second right) watches the races during the Crabbie's Grand National 2014, Grand Opening Day at Aintree
Coleen Rooney (second right) watches the races during the Crabbie's Grand National 2014, Grand Opening Day at Aintree
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IF FOOTBALLER Wayne Rooney’s wife Coleen wants a Crabbie’s Grand National tip, she should follow the formula used by Cambridge University maths boffin William Marston.

As Coleen stole the show at Aintree yesterday on day one of a National meeting that also marked the 50th anniversary of the Injured Jockeys Fund with a visit by the charity’s patron Princess Anne, the chess master was using unconventional methods to check the credentials of tomorrow’s big race runners.

His special selection criteria included the first letter of the horse’s name – M was the most popular – and the number of letters in a horse’s name, with eight or 10 offering the greatest chance of success.

And, after using bookmaker William Hill’s database to study the results of every National since 1867, he then established that the race favours nine-year-olds.

From this, Prof Marston narrowed down the field to the nine-year-old – and 10-letter – horse Monbeg Dude. He is co-owned by Otley-born rugby international Mike Tindall, whose wife Zara Phillips, an Olympic medal-winning equestrian, has been schooling the horse.

Eight-page Grand National special inside today.