|Wednesday 9th April 2014|
Competitive Betting Heat Sees Quartet Vying for Scottish National Favouritism
The dust may only just be settling on the Grand National at Aintree but already attention is turning north of the border with the Scottish equivalent taking place at Ayr this Saturday. There were a total of 58 horses entered at the latest stage on Monday morning in what promises to be a cracking renewal of the 2014 Scottish National. The race is of course a Grade 3 handicap run over a trip of four miles and expect some of the strongest stayers, both young and old, to take their chance in the big race.
The star name on the list of entries is Tidal Bay who could bid for another big race success just days after running in the Aintree Grand National. The Paul Nicholls trained 13-year-old was brought down last weekend at the eighth fence and will have to concede lumps of weight if he does indeed take his chance at Ayr. The Graham Wylie owned horse finished third in the Welsh National back in December when the top weight and his form at the top level puts him miles clear of the rest of the field. It is unclear at this stage though whether or not Tidal Bay will run this weekend but there is no doubt that his potential participation will shape the race either way and with the clock ticking on his career, it may just be that he takes his chance providing Aintree hasn’t taken too much out of him.
The current ante-post favourite is the Lucinda Russell trained Green Flag at 9/1 but he is one of a quartet that could start at the head of the betting on Saturday, with Mendip Express, Sam Winner and Roalco de Farges also at the head of the market. Green Flag was last seen finishing fourth in a handicap at the Cheltenham Festival and he looks ideally suited to a test like the Scottish National. The seven-year-old won a good handicap chase at Ayr back in November over 3m1f on soft ground and although he is still a novice chaser, he remains a highly progressive horse who may well have plenty in hand on the field if he puts his best hoof forward.
Alan King has been in good form of late and he will be hoping that Godsmejudge (20/1 with bet365 and Paddy Power) can win the race for the second year-in-a-row. The eight-year-old was an excellent winner twelve months ago and although he hasn’t been in great form this season, he has to be in with a shout given last year’s success. He was pulled up last time out at Doncaster in the Grimthorpe Chase and missed Aintree which is a worry but he is a strong stayer at his best and clearly enjoys Ayr which would be in his favour if he takes his chance on Saturday.
Paul Nicholls will have to decide whether or not to run Tidal Bay in the race but it looks almost certain that the Ditcheat handler will run Sam Winner, who is contesting favouritism at around 10/1. The seven-year-old horse has been in decent form all season and was last seen running a good race when fifth in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham. He looked a little out-paced that day despite travelling really well for much of the trip but he shaped like he would enjoy the four miles on offer in the Scottish Grand National. He is only seven which might count against him given the test in front of the horses this weekend at Ayr but he is clearly a classy animal who could well be crying out for the stamina sapping four mile trip.