The Scottish Grand National (Saturday 13 April, 15:35) is the highlight of the jumps season at Ayr Racecourse, where it has been run since 1966. It is a handicap chase that takes place over a distance of 3 miles 7 furlongs and 176 yards. Red Rum famously won the race in 1974 after also winning the Grand National for the second time that season, whilst other horses that have won both Nationals are Earth Summit and Little Polveir.
Scottish Grand National 10-Year-Stats
No horse younger than seven has won the Scottish Grand National in the last 10 years, with the only six-year-old to win being Earth Summit in 1994. Two of the last 10 winners have been aged seven, one aged eight, four aged nine, and three aged 11.
The last 10 winners have been rated 133, 127, 146, 134, 139, 140, 137, 146, 146, and 135. Seven of those winners have carried 10-9 or less, with two carrying 11-3, and one carrying 11-10.
The last 10 winners had run between three and six times that season. Three of them had their prep-runs at the Cheltenham Festival, where they all ran in the National Hunt Chase. Only one had run at Aintree and he fell at the first fence in the Grand National. Eight of the last 10 winners had their prep runs in March, and two in April, suggesting a long absence from the track is difficult to overcome.
The odds of the last 10 winners have varied greatly, with two returned at 15/2 and one at 9/1. The other seven were returned at odds ranging from 12/1 to 40/1, with three of the last five winners returned at 40/1, 25/1, and 33/1.
Scottish Grand National 2019 Summary
Only one horse in the 2019 Scottish Grand National field is younger than seven but, interestingly, Blue Flight is trained by Earth Summit’s trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies. However, Blue Flight is also rated two pounds higher than any of the last 10 winners.
Other horses that are rated above 146 are the top-weight Beware The Bear, Sizing Codelco, Dingo Dollar, and Vintage Clouds. The latter is also trying to do what his owner’s Vicente did in 2016 by winning after falling at the first in the Grand National.
Seven horses look to have had a longer than the ideal absence from the track, and these are Crosspark, Cogry, Red Infantry, Cloth Cap, Mysteree, Geronimo, and Doing Fine. Beau Du Brizas has also run more times than is ideal with seven runs this season, whilst Kingswell Theatre has run just once.
Another five horses will also be running from out of the handicap which, whilst this isn’t impossible to overcome, can only be a disadvantage. This quintet is Rathlin Rose, ACDC, Chic Name, Morney Wing, and Van Gogh Dun Granit.
This leaves us with nine horses in our shortlist that fit most of the trends of winners in the last 10 years.
Scottish Grand National 2019 Short-List
11-year-old who won at Newbury last time out over 26 furlongs at Newbury, which has often proved his perfect course and distance in the past. The handicapper has raised him six pounds for that win and, though he’s won off higher-marks in his prime, he’s never really suggested he will stay four miles.
Connections were originally aiming him at the Grand National this season but, after he failed to take to the National fences in the Becher Chase, this has been his target ever since. Connections have run him twice over hurdles since in order to protect his handicap mark, which is two pounds lower than the one the handicapper gave him after he won a big novice chase at this meeting last year, when he beat Dingo Dollar. Top Irish jockey Sean Flanagan takes over from his usual 5lb claimer and there’s been lots of money around for him this week.
Cheekily-named eight-year-old that could follow in the footsteps of three of the past 10 winners by running in the National Hunt Chase before winning this. His form is nothing to shout about but this will be the first time he’s carried a low-weight in a staying handicap and it could suit.
Could be suited by a step up to four miles, and probably recorded a career best when a staying on fourth in the Ultima Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last time. However, no winner in the last 10 years has followed that route to victory and he’s held on collateral form by a couple of horses that haven’t made the shortlist.
Ran well on his first two starts this season when finishing second to OK Corral in a novice chase and then when winning the Classic Chase at Warwick off a low-weight. He’s also another that ran in the National Hunt Chase last time, when he was pulled up after being hampered. Set to carry a nice low-weight again here and it’s easy to see him going close with a bit of luck.
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies likes to target novice chasers at this race, but this is one is quite inexperienced over fences and he was pulled up in the Midlands National last time. However, he may prefer this better ground and is not completely discounted.
Winning this race after running unplaced at Doncaster in March has been a route followed by past winners Merigo and Al Co. It’s also interesting that his best performance this season was when staying on powerfully to win the Durham National over 29 furlongs. This trip could be the making of him and he has a chance.
Ten-year-old who is a dual course winner. However, he’s had a few chances off low-weights in this grade and four-miles may be further than he wants.
Won his last two races off low-weights, beating both Dingo Dollar and Brian Boranha at Doncaster in March. However, he’s much worse off at the weights with both those horses and they both may also be better suited by the longer trip.
Scottish Grand National 2019 Verdict
As you’d expect in a 28-runner handicap, there are plenty of horses with chances. However, as there has been a trio of big-priced winners in the last few years, I’m prepared to chance three outsiders each-way against the field. Skipthecuddles and Impulsive Star both used the National Hunt Chase as a prep race and should be much better suited to carrying low-weights here. Meanwhile, Brian Boranha is another lightly-weighed horse that could relish the step-up-in-trip judged on his Durham National win.