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Scottish Grand National Preview – 3:35pm 2nd April

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This won’t be an ordinary Scottish Grand National at Ayr. The trends would suggest that you need an experienced chaser, with confirmed stamina and a low weight on their backs. The average rating of the winner in the last 10 years is 140 and 8 of the last 9 winners have carried 11-03 or less to victory. That’s a good starting point, but those trends are based on this race coming a week after the Grand National at Aintree and this year it is the week before. Instead of having a field of horses who didn’t make it into the Aintree race or perhaps didn’t get very far if they did, we are likely to have a different makeup to the 2022 race and so those trends need to be treated with caution. 

As an example of this, last season’s top weight was Lake View Lad on a mark of 155, whereas at the 5-day stage this year, the highest rated horse left in the race was Hewick on 149. Just 2-weeks on from Cheltenham, with Aintree less than 6-days away, the makeup of the entire meeting is likely to be different this time around and none more so than in Saturdays feature race.

With the lineup perhaps a little lower on quality than in previous years, this may allow a few horses to sneak in at the bottom of the weights that would otherwise have been balloted out. Last year’s bottom weight got in on a mark of 129, which perhaps shows the change in the class of horse needed for this prize in recent years.

A period of dry weather has been followed by a cold spell this week and that could have a significant effect on the ground. The race has been run on ground officially described as “good” 7 times in the last 10 years, but it is still worth noting that 6 of the 9 winners in that time still had previous experience over a marathon trip of 3-miles and 4-furlongs. It might seem obvious to say that you need a stayer to win a national, but in a race run on a sound surface, the temptation to think that a horse might get away with a stamina stretching trip needs to be considered.

The British did much better in the handicaps at the festival, but the Irish trained runners still need to be respected wherever they line up. Mister Fogpatches was 3rd in the race last year for the Fahy team and they are represented this time by HISTORY OF FASHION, who was last seen finishing 3rd at Navan after an unlucky unseat in the Eider at Newcastle. He looks guaranteed to stay the trip, will have a nice low weight on his back and does look to have been lined up for a big British raid, though any rain would be a concern as his best form has come on a sound surface. Shark Hanlon won the Durham National earlier in the season with HEWICK, but he was pulled up at Uttoxeter just 2-weeks ago and it may be that the handicapper has caught up with him after a good summer campaign in 2021. Novices do well in this race, so it is fair to say that John McConnell has a fair chance with STREETS OF DOYEN. He is very unexposed and has potential on this mark, though he does need to bounce back from being pulled up in the Brown Advisory at Cheltenham.

The late Trevor Hemmings had a long association with this race and his colours will be carried by VINTAGE CLOUDS and MAJOR DUNDEE. The former was beaten at a very early stage in the Ultima at the festival and is probably best watched after that below par effort in a race that he won the year before, but the latter makes much more appeal. Novices have a very good record in this race and after just 3 starts over fences, he is one of the most unexposed horses in the field. He has won at Fakenham and Bangor so far this season and could be well treated on a mark of 132. Although he does need to prove his stamina for the trip, he is a half-brother to OnenightinVienna and there are enough stayers in the family to suggest the trip could be in range if he can handle the rise in class.

Lucinda Russell doesn’t have a runner in the race this year, so Scotland’s hopes rest with Iain Jardine and Sandy Thomson. COOL MIX was 5th in the race last year and looks ideally suited to this type of race given his preferred run style of coming with a late rattle. He hasn’t got his head in front since beating Sky Pirate in the Bobby Renton at Wetherby in October 2020 but has dropped back to a mark of 125 as a result. If the race sets up perfectly for him, then he would have an each-way chance but with his best form over a shorter trip, it is a risky play. Sandy Thomson has been on record this week to say that they have got THE FERRY MASTER in much better form this time around and he ran very well on his first start after a wind op at Newcastle 3-weeks ago. That should put him spot on and that also makes him of each-way interest.

Christian Williams has an excellent record in staying chases and his 2 runners, KITTY’S LIGHT and WIN MY WINGS are both deserving of their place at the head of the markets. Kitty’s Light has plenty of form in big field handicap chases and looks sure to stay the trip, especially on this ground. The only slight concern would be that his recent form reads 22P472 and he has developed the habit of finding one horse too good, with just 1 win in his last 10 starts, but on paper he looks to have a favourites chance under Jack Tudor. Win My Wings does know how to win. She has won 4 of her last 6 starts and proved in the Eider last time that this marathon trip won’t be an issue. Although she is a 9-year-old, she has made just 7 starts over fences, winning 3 of them and is far from exposed, especially at staying trips and there is lots of reasons to think she could play a hand.

We should also mention the likes of THE WOLF and ASHTOWN LAD given the record that novices’ have in this race, but both need to prove their stamina at the trip and are probably no more than fairly treated on their current marks.

Until we have confirmed the weather forecast, it is hard to be overly confident with our selections for this race, but the horses who make the most appeal are those with the confirmed stamina. WIN MY WINGS makes most appeal after her win in the Eider and she shouldn’t be too inconvenienced by any rain, but it is a tentative each-way selection in an open race.

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