Tips and Hints for the Scottish Grand National
After the excitement of Aintree, Scotland’s equivalent of the richest prize in horse racing, the Grand National, takes place on Saturday at 3:45pm, and as ever there is intrigue, whispers and rumours of form horses, steamers and ones to avoid.
The race is the third longest on the National Hunt calendar at four miles and 110 yards, so it naturally favours horses that can withstand the toughest test of their stamina. With rain showers around during midweek the going is likely to be good to soft too – again favouring those mounts with staying power.
The early bookmakers’ favourite is Gallant Oscar, the lively steed from Tony Martin’s yard who was last seen finishing in third at Cheltenham, and who missed out on a place in the English National. Precedential punters will be armed with the knowledge that only one favourite has won in the past eleven renewals of the race, however.
Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls’ assault on the race will be led by Sam Winner, who at the time of writing is priced at a generous 14/1. He was pulled up in his outing at the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but this longer jaunt should suit him well.
The David Pipe trained Broadway Buffalo is another that is garnering plenty of interest at this early stage. He didn’t run at Aintree during the Grand National meet so will have fresh legs at his disposal, a notion confirmed by Pipe. “Missing out on the National may perversely be a blessing in disguise for Broadway Buffalo,” he said.
“Horses that have finished placed in the four-miler at the Cheltenham Festival have an excellent record race in the Ayr race, and I hope he will be able to maintain that tradition.”
Any race with a field of 30+ horses offers plenty of chance for outside potential – as witnessed by Many Clouds’ 25/1 triumph at Aintree on Saturday.
Trainer Alan King won this very race back in 2013 with Godsmejudge, and in this year’s renewal will pin his hopes on seven-year-old Sego Success, a 14/1 shot. Alas, King will only be too aware that eleven of the last twelve Scottish National winners have been aged 8-10.
Another that is worth a look is Goonyella – who looked so impressive in streaking clear in the Midlands National a few weeks ago. That trip was similar to this one in Ayr, so to have a proven winner over the distance priced at 25/1 is intriguing value.
Al Co is the defending champion and won in decent fashion last year. Available from 16/1 to repeat the trick, it’s worth noting that no horse has retained this title since Androma in the mid-1980s. He also fell at the first on his last outing at Aintree on Saturday too.
Trustan Times is another interesting 16/1 shot who finished third in 2014’s outing. As the recent successes of Merigo, Gone to Lunch and Godsmejudge have shown, a podium finish can often be replicated the following year, so a steady each way punt looks frugal here.
The AP Factor
Catching On was highly fancied as the favourite in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter in March but fell badly at the eighth flight, and trainer Jonjo O’Neill is likely to be shorn of the services of AP McCoy here, with the multiple-time Champion Jockey unlikely to be able to make the weight.
A possible alternative for McCoy would be Yes Tom, whom he has already enjoyed success on with a 25/1 victory at Ayr just a matter of months ago. It would be a fitting finale to Scottish racing if he could steward the horse home once again.
Some Other Things to Consider....
As you’d expect from a race with such a rich heritage and history, numerous stats and insights have been thrown up that help punters to find the right horse for them.
So here are a few interesting bits and pieces to get you thinking. Of the last 12 Scottish National winners:
92% have run within the last 60 days, and had no more than six runs in the season.
92% have won a three-mile or longer race in their career.
83% have won a Class 1 or 2 race in their career.
Hopefully these pointers will prove fruitful in your quest for a winner in the big race at Ayr on Saturday!