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Thursday, 10 April 2014

Scottish Grand National Preview


The Scottish Grand National, run over 4 miles 110 yards, is the highlight of this Saturday’s card at Ayr and the presence of Tidal Bay, who concedes 19lb and upwards to his rivals, means that eighteen of the thirty runners race from out of the handicap. However, Joes Edge (2005) won at 20/1 from 5lb out of the handicap and Iris De Balme (2008) won at 66/1 from 26lb out of the handicap, so we shouldn’t necessarily be afraid of backing horses carrying more weight than that to which they’re entitled at long odds.

The first one that took our eye this week was actually the second reserve, Scotswell, who beat subsequent winner Fentara in a decent handicap chase, over 3 miles 2 furlongs, at Kelso three weeks ago and ran well when second, beaten 6 lengths, in the Scottish Borders National, over 4 miles, on the same course in December. However, even if he gets into the race, he’ll be 16lb ‘wrong’ at the weights, so even the 50/1 available generally doesn’t look overly generous. He’s actually 19lb worse off for 16 lengths with Green Flag on their running at Newcastle in November so, believe me, the bookmakers are giving nothing away.

More realistically, perhaps, last year’s winner Godsmejudge is available at 18/1, in a place, in the ante post lists and clearly has a chance of landing a notable double. Alan King’s 8-year-old was a promising fifth, beaten 4½ lengths, behind subsequent Grand National fourth, Alvarado, on his seasonal reappearance at Cheltenham in November, but was pulled up on his next two starts. He reportedly suffered a setback on his latest start at Doncaster six weeks ago but, if fully recovered, he can make his presence felt off a handicap mark just 6lb higher than last year. The ability to hold a prominent position is a definite advantage around the twists and turns of Ayr and, in that respect, Godsmejudge makes no little appeal.

At longer odds, last season’s Durham National winner, Lackamon, fell on his belated seasonal debut over 2 miles 4 furlongs at Ayr last month, but has had a couple of runs over hurdles in the last fortnight to put him right for this and appears to have a decent shout at 28/1. He remains 9lb higher in the weights than when winning at Sedgefield in April and Ryan Mania, who won on him that day, prefers Fill The Power, but he’s only 1lb out of the handicap and clearly stays all day.

Even at 50/1 with a run, Scotswell appears to have little or no chance at the weights but, bearing in mind that we could’ve said the same thing about Iris De Balme a few years ago, it would be folly to leave him out of calculations on that basis alone. So, in summary, our three against the field this week are, in order of preference:

Godsmejudge (18/1 with Sporting Bet)
Lackamon (28/1 with Sporting Bet)
Scotswell (50/1 generally)

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