Scottish Grand National Preview
The Scottish Grand National is a race steeped in history and, this year, packed with more sub-plots than a classic crime novel.
Normal renewals of the Scottish Grand National can have something of an ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show’ feel about them. Just seven days on from the big one at Aintree, northern raiders often head for the west coast of Scotland in search of a meaty consolation prize. But 2016 is different. The small matter of an ongoing battle for the Trainer’s Championship has thrown the spotlight on Scotland’s premier jumps attraction – and with Mouse Morris seeking a National treble (he’s already won the Irish and English versions), this marathon is a dish coming nicely to the boil.
Only Red Rum has won both the Aintree and Ayr races in the same year – that was back in 1974 – and remains the undoubted stand out name on the list of past winners. But who wins this year’s four miler round the contours of the coastal track? It’s a fair, galloping circuit and anyone getting into an early rhythm over the 27 fences will be hard to peg back.
Here we break down the field:
FIVE TO FOLLOW:
CAUSE OF CAUSES (Rating 155, Odds 10/1)
Not hard to see why he’s come in for so much antepost support after he was initially aimed at Aintree. A winner at Cheltenham the last two years, he looked a class apart when romping home by 12 lengths in this year’s Kim Muir. If he brings that sort of form to the table here, he’s going to be very hard to beat. Conditions will be fine and the only obvious concern is the 11st 12lbs he has to lump around.
MEASUREOFMYDREAMS (Rating 146, Odds 9/1)
The fact that Willie Mullins is represented here underlines how seriously he is taking the Trainers Championship. Measureofmydreams ran a huge race to finish third in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham and getting almost a stone from Cause of Causes here brings him seriously into the picture. Whether his jumping is up to the four mile test is the big question.
VYTA DU ROC (Rating 145, Odds 16/1)
I like this horse a lot. Hugely consistent type who has made the frame on nine of his 11 starts. It puzzled me slightly that connections chose to go the RSA route at Cheltenham because he was being touted as a stayer by Henderson in the build up and he seemed to be leaning down the four mile route. It makes this race of serious interest. He’s the kind of horse that, if he avoids trouble and gets into an early rhythm, he could find himself majorly involved.
HIGHLAND LODGE (Rating 137, Odds 25/1)
Fascinating contender. Trained by Jimmy Moffat in Cumbria, this horse was bought out of the Emma Lavelle yard in November and quickly went out and won the Beecher Chase at Aintree the following month. He has been kept in cold storage since then and was duly aimed at the big one last week but narrowly missed the cut. So he comes here instead and gets to race off an attractive looking 10st 8lbs. He could have masses of improvement to come.
FINE RIGHTLY (Rating 151, Odds 33/1)
Somewhat surprising to see Stuart Crawford’s Irish raider written off in the betting. Both horse and handler know how to win around Ayr and the trip will prove no problem in these conditions. Last Spring at Naas he had a certain Rule The World back in second, which underlines what he is capable of and it would be folly to rule him out of a mighty run here at a track he knows and loves. His mark of 151 is plenty high enough, but he may just prove up to getting involved.
Tony Martin’s HEATHFIELD will attract plenty of local support in the build up to the race – Heathfield being the name of a district in the town of Ayr. But will that patriotic cash prove well placed? As ever with Martin, he looks to have protected the mark coming in to the big one and a couple of decent pieces of form (narrow defeats to Bishops Road and Saint John Henry) catch the eye.
BEREA BORU has improved out of all recognition for the Peter Bowen team this season and will come here on a four timer. But this represents a huge leap in class and he’s not done enough to suggest he’s up to that task as yet. However, a horse who cannot stop winning is a dangerous horse to rule out of the equation.
SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT will be viewed as a live contender by many and quotes of 16/1 will attract plenty of support. Was pitched into the RSA at Cheltenham and ultimately found wanting when trailing home in a different postcode to Blaklion. That is worrying considering he beat the same horse back in January and the concern would be he is regressing rather than progressing.
She couldn’t do it again, could she? Kerry Lee’s GOODTOKNOW has a bit to find on official ratings but boy is he progressive. His last two wins have proven he has the stamina for this trip and the way he toughed it out over an extended 3m 4f at Taunton last time was impressive. He’ll have to take a big step forward here but everything Lee touches is turning to gold so who would bet against it?
Best of luck and enjoy the race,