2022 Scottish Grand National Preview
Saturday is Scottish Grand National Day, with Ayr once again playing host to the biggest jumps race in Scotland. A field of 24 runners look set to take their chance and our racing expert has delved through the contenders, identifying the main challengers to look out for as well as an eye-catching outsider that could outrun its odds.
The Ferry Master heads the Home Challenge
Lucinda Russell landed a home Grand National last year with Mighty Thunder and although she has no representative in 2022 there is still plenty of Scottish representation.
The Ferry Master looks like the pick of the home bunch for Lambden-based trainer Sandy Thomson.
This 9yo by Elusive Pimpernel looked set to land this prize 12 months ago when hitting the front turning for home. In hindsight, he may have been better served under a more patient ride, losing two placed on the run-in and ultimately coming fourth, but the run was still a creditable one considering that it was just his fifth over fences, and he now has an extra season’s experience under his belt.
The Ferry Master hasn’t won in four starts this season, yet wind surgery appeared to bring about improvement when the gelding finished a neck second at Newcastle last month and that run should have teed him up nicely for another attempt at this prize – particularly considering that he is running off a 5lb lower mark this time around.
Kitty’s Light looks set to go off the favourite
Christian Williams is enjoying his best training season yet in terms of numbers, with 31 winners on the board, and he’ll be hoping that Kitty’s Light can enhance that with victory on Saturday.
This gelding may only be a 6yo, but he already has racked up a wealth of chasing experience, with Saturday’s race set to be his 14th chase outing.
Kitty’s Light looked desperately unlucky not to land last season’s bet365 Gold Cup, staying on resolutely for second and being badly hampered on the run-in by the wandering Enrilo.
That showing marked Kitty’s Light down as a strong stayer when getting his favoured good ground, and that surface brought about an improvement in form at Kempton last time, where Kitty’s Light once again looked a strong stayer on a track that wouldn’t have played to his strengths. This dour test should be more to Kitty’s Light’s liking, and it’s, therefore, no shock to see him sitting atop of the betting.
Irish raider Stormy Judge has plenty in his favour
Mister Fogpatches finished a fine third in this race 12 months ago, and his full brother, and stablemate, Stormy Judge makes the line-up in 2022.
Pat Fahy’s 7yo grey was twice a chase winner last year, seeing off Grand National hopeful Enjoy D’allen at Navan.
He has been limited to just the two starts this campaign, not troubling the judge in either assignment, yet he ran far better than the bare result at Naas last time, only fading late on having travelled powerfully into his race. Stormy Judge runs off the same mark of 139 here and Danny Mullins maintains the partnership, so if handling this better ground expect him to be bang there pitching at the business end.
Pipe outsider one to consider at huge odds
Martin Pipe took the 2002 Scottish Grand National with Take Control, and twenty years later, Pond House Stables are represented by both El Paso Wood and Via Dolorosa, with the latter particularly interesting.
This 10yo Konig Shuffle gelding runs in the silks of Judith Wilson, and he has really come good since receiving wind surgery earlier this year.
A Ludlow sixth has been followed by victories at both Southwell and Fakenham, with David Pipe’s charge not seeing another runner on either occasion. These tactics are expected to be tougher to deploy on Saturday, particularly up 10lb for his latest victory, but Via Dolorosa arrives here on a roll and could have more to offer over marathon distances such as this, so looks dangerous to dismiss at healthy each-way odds.