2018 Scottish Grand National: Odds and Betting Preview

Following the wondrous Aintree meeting last weekend that culminated into one of the tightest and most exciting finishes in recent Grand National history, the focus turns north of the border this weekend, as Ayr hosts its two-day event, with the Scottish Grand National being the cornerstone of interest this coming Saturday afternoon.

The Scottish equivalent has similarities to the English version; yet has some subtle differences. Both races are of Grade 3 status, however only horses aged 7 and over can participate in the Aintree version, but the Scottish version accepts horses from five years and upwards. Ayr’s event is raced over four miles and 110 yards, which is shorter than Aintree, with just (!) 27 standard fences to navigate over in comparison to Aintree’s 30.

One note of caution for backing horses for the race at this early stage is to hold your bets at least until the final declarations are announced on Thursday. Bookmakers are not as keen to offer the ‘non-runner, no bet’ concessions for the Scottish Grand National, so hold on to your cash till later in the week.

Saturday’s renewal will be for horses who are slightly inferior ratings-wise than the English version, but with a bumper line-up of thirty runners, this promises to be a very difficult race to fathom, but hopefully this preview can help our readers solve a difficult puzzle.

Hat Trick Bid

Paul Nicholls

The obvious starting point has to be the Paul Nicholls trained, Vicente who is bidding to be the first horse since Couvrefeu II (1911-13) to win three successive Scottish Grand Nationals. The nine-year-old is once again the bookmakers’ ante post favourite for the race and can be currently backed at 9/1 with bet365 and 188Bet. Vicente is four pounds higher in the handicap this time around, so you would have some reservations on how much further improvement is left in the tank.

After opting away from Aintree due to heavy ground concerns, Vicente has also to overcome two disappointing outings, but the likely mount of Sam Twiston-Davies comes to hand at this time of year and the horse is definitely worthy of place calculations at a track he obviously loves.

Strong Hand

Leading National Hunt owner Trevor Hemmings has a very strong hand in the Scottish National, with Vicente and the unfortunate casualty of the Aintree National in Vintage Clouds, who missed out on a place in the English race due to the British Horseracing Board’s decision to not allow non-runners to be replaced in the Grand National after a Friday lunchtime deadline, much to Hemmings’ ire.

That debacle could be to the advantage of Vintage Clouds at Ayr though as a big run is highly likely. Available to back at the best price of 11/1 with Sun Bets at the time of writing, Vintage Clouds can show he is a horse firmly on the upgrade and he has to be on the shortlist. After five consistent efforts so far this season, Vintage Clouds could cement his place at Aintree next year with a win here.

Irish Hopes

No major National Hunt prize is far from the clutches of leading Irish trainer Gordon Elliott these days, as he is likely to send Fagan or Folsom Blue, if not both, over the Irish Sea to try and continue his success after Tiger Roll’s Aintree triumph.

Fagan (14/1 with Coral and 188Bet) has yet to tackle marathon trips in his fledgling chase career but has shown a decent level of form by following home Black Corton on his most recent start at Cheltenham last October. It would effectively be a tip in itself if Fagan lined-up in the Ayr marathon, as Elliott has obviously seen something in the interim to suggest a stamina trip can pay dividends.

Folsom Blue (16/1 with bet365 and Ladbrokes) is owned by the Gigginstown House Stud – of Tiger Roll fame – and if he can produce a similar effort when finishing fifth (to be promoted to fourth) in the Irish National, he can contend in the Scottish equivalent.

Notable Others

The Colin Tizzard stable is in rude health in recent weeks and his Sizing Tennessee is a horse who strikes me as one for the shortlist. The game front-runner ran with great credit at the Cheltenham Festival to finish third despite losing a shoe. Bet365 are offering the top price of 20/1 on the bold jumping ten-year-old, who could potentially run into the placings at the very least.

Bet365 is once again the place to get involved on the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Ballyoptic, as that firm go top price of 16/1 on the classy eight-year old chaser. Ballyoptic has excellent recent form by finishing in fourth place behind current 2019 ante-post Gold Cup favourite, Presenting Percy in the RSA Chase at the recent Cheltenham Festival. Ballyoptic must carry plenty of weight, but he has the class to be involved in the finish.

One final horse to consider at a price is Looking Well, trained by Nicky Richards. Ryan Day is already booked for the ride on the nine-year-old and if he can put his best foot forward on Saturday, then he is more than capable of out running his current odds of 20/1 (generally available). After having his last race virtually won at Musselburgh back in February, Looking Well inexplicably jinked and unseated his rider coming to the last fence. Hopefully recompense awaits.

Conclusion

It is obviously difficult to pick any winner of a likely 30-runner race, but hopefully one of these selections above can enter the winners’ enclosure on Saturday afternoon. However, I have to put forward two horses out of the seven aforementioned and those are Vintage Clouds as a win bet and Sizing Tennessee for each-way purposes.

I strongly believe that both horses can be involved in the finish of this marathon event to try and give our readers some profit for the race.

Best Bets:

  • Vintage Clouds to Win the Scottish Grand National at 11/1 with Sun Bets
  • Sizing Tennessee Each-Way at 20/1 with bet365 – ¼ odds for first four places.
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