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Scottish Grand National preview

As the National Hunt season rolls to a close for another year, it goes out with several big finales Cheltenham, Aintree, Ayr and finally Punchestown. It's Scotland's turn to get into the action this weekend with the running of the Scottish Grand National at Ayr. Sharing his wisdom on the marathon of the north is regular contributor Chris Day, @chrisday100.

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The Scottish National

When I look at the field for Saturday’s big race, the Scottish National, I am reminded that the majority of the big staying races of the season have been won by fresh horses who, in the most part have been under rated and over priced against some who’ve been plodding round five or six times in heavy ground trying to find some form.

No surprises then that this will be my angle for the weekend.

Tidal Bay tops the weights and could conceivably travel on the bridle into the straight against these, such is his class edge and I admit to chucking 20 quid at the 20-1 available just after Paul Nicholls said he’d be declared for this as the race should be his last before an honourable retirement. He’s off the same mark as when dividing Bobs Worth and First Lieutenant in last season’s red hot Hennessy and must be thereabouts if avoiding the fate which befell him at the Canal Turn at Aintree last week. On reflection, though, I think he’ll just come up short when the chips are down conceding so much weight.

Next in the weights is stablemate, Sam Winner, who must have some sort of chance from 147, having been mixing it with the best novices all season. He and another novice, Mendip Express, have similar chances although they’re both passed over as the market has hardly missed them, a comment which applies to Green Flag, who had a hard race in fourth in a very strong Cheltenham handicap, winner and second won at Aintree last week and third ran well in the National.

Barry Geraghty has taken all before him at the two big spring Festivals but he’ll need to be at his best to keep the errors from his partner, Hadrian’s Approach, to a minimum. If this had been the case before, we could well be looking at a CV littered with big race successes but, as it is, I’ll swerve him again although the slightly slower pace and better ground could be to his advantage.

Godsmejudge won this last season but has never seemed right since and I prefer his stable companion, Midnight Sail, who ran a good race in fourth in the Betbright Chase when last seen and should appreciate the extra yardage here.

Yes Tom must be considered well in by shrewd connections but his efforts on the track don’t really stack up in this context and, of those out of the handicap, I’d give some sort of chance to Alpha Victor (if his Midlands National second has not left its mark), Edmund Kean, who I thought looked ideal for Chepstow in December when I saw him win at Leicester, Roalco De Farges, who has a Bet365 Chase runner up on his CV and looked an improver when trotting up at Newbury last time, Mister Marker, who was third in this last year but comes here in better form and Pertemps Final fourth, Trustan Times, who bids to become the second National winner in seven days to have prepped in that race.

However, as we speak, the other two I fancy the most are Rigadin De Beauchene and Roberto Goldback.

The former was pulled up on fastish ground last year but had been on the go for a while whereas this season he won his only race, the Haydock Park Grand National Trial by a long way eased down in his favourite heavy ground and has seen his mark rise as a result. What we do have here, though, is a guaranteed stayer, a relentless galloper in top form and a horse who was aimed at this race as soon as he passed the post at Haydock, which presumably means the trainer didn’t think the track was to blame for him not running well last season. At 20-1, he ticks a lot of boxes and has far fewer negatives than some much shorter in the betting.

Roberto Goldback is also in good form, having stayed on too late in third behind Spring Heeled in the Kim Muir. He’s 18lbs lower than when sent off favourite behind Wyck Hill and Katenko, conceding each nearly two stone at Ascot 15 months ago and is possibly the best handicapped horse in the field. If the ground quickens up he’d be my choice but, if it rains, I’ll stick with Rigadin De Beauchene.

As ever, I’ll combine Tidal Bay, Rigadin De Beauchene and Roberto Goldback in forecast and tricast combinations and wouldn’t put anybody off putting them in each way doubles with Montbazon, who I thought was ideal for the Scottish Champion Hurdle after seeing him fade on the hill into third in a red hot County Hurdle.


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