We take a look through the ante-post betting for the Scottish Grand National and an interesting outsider who could make an impact from a lengthy price.
Twenty-eight years after Aintree hosted the first ever Grand National, Scotland invited the best handicap chasers to come north of the border to battle it out for the Scottish Grand National title. In 1966, Ayr racecourse hosted the Scottish National for the first time and Scotland's Premier racecourse has held onto the race ever since.
The 2017 renewal of the Scottish Grand National is looking incredibly tight, with a whole host of top-quality entrants fighting amongst themselves for favouritism at the top of the market.
was fancied by many to challenge for the title at Aintree, but as Cocktails At Dawn stumbled in front of him at the first fence, Paul Nicholls' charge was impeded and found himself tumbling to the ground. Seeing as his quest for Grand National glory ended so swiftly, there’s an excellent chance he could return to Ayr to defend his Scottish National title. He will go to post at the same rating of 146 that he took to post with him last year, before beating Alvarado
to the title by around three lengths.Premier Bond
) couldn’t quite seal a hat-trick of victories when he strutted his stuff at the Cheltenham Festival. He was very impressive with a strong third place finish in the Kim Muir and he may finally be the one who hands Nicky Henderson a long-awaited National title. Southfield Royale
) was travelling well in the Kim Muir before falling at the half-way stage. Neil Mulholland's former Graded winner has looked out of sorts all season, but this would be the perfect time for him to return to top form.
It seems a long, long time since Henri Parry Morgan
(20/1 William Hill
) pushed Native River all the way to the post in the 2016 Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree. His best result in a calamitous campaign has been finishing 17 lengths behind Tea For Two in a four-horse Class 2 at Exeter and over the course of the season, his rating has dropped from 150 right down to 135. Peter Bowen has dropped him down in Class and even sent him over hurdles to try and restore some of his charge’s crumbling career, but all to no avail.Missed Approach
) bounced back from an early exit in a race at Chepstow with an excellent run in the National Hunt Chase, where a late rally saw him come home just three lengths behind Tiger Roll in second. Arpege De Alene
(16/1 William Hill
) also returned to something like his best form in the National Hunt, crossing the line three lengths behind his Scottish National rival in fourth and both hold strong claims for the title. Both are clearly very talented and should be there or there abouts come the end of the race.Vintage Clouds
was steadily backed in the build-up to the Ultima Handicap at Cheltenham and he was travelling to a solid, top-ten finish before falling at the third last. Sue Smith's charge may have failed to win so far this season, but good seconds in Class 2 and 3 contests, plus a third place finish in the Grand National Trial at Haydock will be a source of great encouragement.
Leighton Aspell and Missed Approach will form a formidable partnership in the Scottish National. Seldom Inn
) was the clear third favourite behind Tenor Nivernais and Le Mercury when the trio met at Kelso, but he soundly trounced his highly-rated rivals with a comfortable 15 length victory. He lost out to Yala Enki by seven lengths on his return to Kelso in a handicap last month, but he’s clearly in good enough form to land a third victory of the season.
) is always in with a chance when it comes to long distance handicap chases. Emma Lavelle’s ten-year-old finished just five lengths behind Mysteree in fifth in the Eider and third again behind One For Arthur in the Betfred Classic at Warwick. He will go to post five pounds lower in the ratings than the 142 mark he carried to tenth in this race last season and will look to take the field on confidently from the front.
(33/1 William Hill
) seems to have sorted out the jumping woes that plagued the early stages of this season. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge won a good quality Class 2 Handicap at Cheltenham and finished sixth in the Midlands National on his last appearance. Phillip Hobbs’ Kruzhlinin
) lead from the front when winning the Grade 3 Fixed Brush title at Haydock in the winter and has recorded good finishes in top quality handicaps at Kempton and again at Haydock in the winter.
You could make a strong case for so many of these handicappers at the head of the betting grasping Scottish National glory, with the likes of Missed Approach, Premier Bond and defending champion, Vicente standing out more than some of the other market front-runners. However, an each-way bet is the only profitable plan of attack with races of this size and stature, which brings a name like BLAKEMOUNT
(50/1 William Hill
) into the equation.
Sue Smith will be delighted at the consistency her nine-year-old has shown so far this season, as he has progressed from two-and-a-half mile chases up to four-milers. He beat Russe Blanc to victory on his first attempt at a trip over three miles back in February and has followed that up with two good performances in his following appearances.
He was leading the way in the Midlands National with one furlong to go, before fading slightly to finish fifth. That mammoth race at Uttoxeter is a furlong-and-a-half longer than the trip he will face here in Scotland, so that could be a big boost to his chances. Regular jockey, Danny Cook has favoured a ride on Vintage Clouds, leaving Henry Brooke free to jump into his saddle and his experience in this type of race with former Becher Chase champion, Highland Lodge will stand the duo in good stead.
It's a risk backing a 50/1 shot in a race of this calibre, but Blakemount is a proven winner, a very sound jumper and obviously in excellent form. Sue Smith will expect another strong showing when he makes his Scottish National debut.
22/4/2017 Ayr Scottish Grand National selection - BLAKEMOUNT each-way (50/1 William Hill)