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Thursday 16 April 2015

Scottish Grand National

Unfortunately, our headline selection for the Grand National, Gas Line Boy, got no further than the first fence and while our other selections, Night In Milan and Oscar Time, completed the course, they did so in their own time. Frankly, neither of them ever looked like troubling the judge but, undaunted, we move on, this week, to the Scottish Grand National, run over 4 miles and 110 yards around the left-handed circuit at Ayr.

One of the lovely things about the Scottish Grand National is that it can be won by horses racing out of the handicap, as in the case of Joes Edge (20/1) in 2005, Iris De Balme (66/1) in 2008 and Al Co (40/1) last year. In fact, Iris De Balme carried fully 26lb more than his long handicap weight, so pretty much anything’s possible – and that’s fine by us!

Although Benvolio (14/1) doesn’t really qualify as an ‘outsider’, it’s interesting that Tony McCoy said earlier in the week that he wouldn’t take a ride in the Scottish National ‘just for the sake of it’ and recorded his sole win in the race on Belmont King, trained by Paul Nicholls – trainer of Benvolio – in 1997. The 8-year-old is beyond our usual remit, but we probably exclude him from calculations at our peril.

The one that really ‘floats our boat’ this week, though, is Carrigdhoun (33/1). Right at the foot of the weights – in fact, 4lb out of the handicap – Maurice Barnes’ 10-year-old overcame an absence of 510 days to win on his belated seasonal debut in March and was far from disgraced when second, beaten 6 lengths, behind Virak, at Haydock two weeks ago. The Goldmark gelding has yet to win beyond 3 miles 2 furlongs, but the step up to marathon distances could be what he needs at this stage of his career and he looks a sporting bet at the odds on offer. Jockey Michael McAllister may be sweating to make his allotted weight of 9st 10lb, but if he had to put up overweight it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Watch out for Benvolio, but our one, bona fide selection this week is Carrigdhoun (33/1 with Sky Bet or Betvictor. Good luck!