BIG RACE PREVIEW: The Coral Scottish Grand National

THE CORAL SCOTTISH GRAND NATIONAL HANDICAP CHASE

3m7f176y   (Grade 3)   


10 YEAR HISTORY: 

2007  Hot Weld                 F. Murphy

2008  Iris de Balme          S. Curran

2009  Hello Bud                N. Twiston-Davies

2010  Merigo                     A. Parker

2011  Beshabar                 T. Vaughan

2012  Merigo                     A. Parker

2013  Godsmejudge         A. King

2014  Al Co                        P. Bowen

2015  Wayward Prince   H. Parrot

2016  Vicente                    P. Nicholls 


TRENDS:

▪️7 of the last 10 winners were aged between 7 & 10. 

▪️6 of the last 10 winners carried 10-6 or less. 

▪️10 of the last 12 winners had won over 3 miles previously. 

▪️Only 1 favourite has won in the last 12 years. 

▪️10 of the last 14 winners finished in the first 3 last time out.

▪️11 of the last 14 winners were sent off at a double figure price. 


CONTENDERS: (In Handicap Order)

MISSED APPROACH                                     

OR: 148    Weight: 11-12

Trainer:  W. Greatrex

Jockey:  G. Sheehan

Second to Tiger Roll in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham, Warren Greatrex’s 7-year old has enjoyed a fine first season over the larger obstacles. The Golan gelding was sent off a well supported favourite for the Grade 2 Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby in February, but could only finish third. 

Fourth behind the smart pair American and Label Des Obeaux on chasing debut, Missed Approach turned the tables on the latter next time out. His Festival performance was hugely encouraging, and he should relish the marathon trip here. 


VIVALDI COLLONGES

OR: 148    Weight: 11-12

Trainer:  P. Nicholls

Jockey:  H. Cobden

Paul Nicholls’ stout stayer Vivaldi Collonges looks one of the more interesting outsiders despite showing very little in 3 starts this term. Third of four at Sandown on seasonal debut, the stamina laden son of Dom Alco has pulled up on each of his 2 subsequent efforts, in the Grade 3 Betfred Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick, and Grimthorpe Handicap Chase at Doncaster respectively. However his strongest piece of chasing form comes from this meeting last year, when the 8-year-old gave 14lbs and a 26 length beating to none other than Aintree Grand National hero One For Arthur (third) in a 3m novice chase. 

If able to re-capture that form, he would obviously be a danger to all here. However his mark looks tough enough, and he’s not easy to back on this season’s performances. 


FINE RIGHTLY

OR: 147    Weight: 11-11

Trainer:  S.Crawford

Jockey:  A. Lynch

Yet to win this term, the experienced 9-year-old has enjoyed a varied campaign, returning with a fine fourth placed effort over hurdles in a race that has worked out well, before finishing third behind the deadly Douvan over 2m1f in Grade 2 company at Cork in December. Eleventh in the Lexus Chase before a fourth placed effort at Kelso, the son of Alflora arrives here fresh having not raced since mid January. 

An easy winner over 3m2f at Down Royal last year, Crawford’s charge is well worth a go at this marathon trip. And it wouldn’t be a surprise if he went very well for his shrewd trainer. 


KRUZHLININ

OR: 146    Weight: 11-10

Trainer:  P. Hobbs

Jockey:  R. Johnson

Winner of the valuable Grade 3 Fixed Brush Handicap Hurdle at Haydock in November, Paul and Clare Rooney’s 10-year-old has only raced twice since, finishing a good second to the clearly well handicapped Our Kaempfer at Kempton in December, before posting a sixth placed finish in the Grand National Trial at Haydock in January. 

Fifth behind Un Temps Pour Tout at the Cheltenham Festival in 2016, barring jumping errors he could have finished much closer. That came off a mark of 148, which makes his mark of 146 look reasonable. If putting his best foot forward in the jumping stakes, he could be interesting. 


VICENTE                                                         

OR: 146    Weight: 11-10

Trainer:  P. Nicholls 

Jockey:  S. Twiston-Davies

Last year’s winner arrives here off the back of a first fence fall in the Aintree showpiece 2 weeks ago. Purchased by leading owner Trevor Hemmings earlier this year, the National fanatic will be hoping to recoup some of the fee he paid for the 8-year-old tomorrow. 

Sixth placed efforts in both the Welsh Grand National and Sky Bet Chase this season rate solid pieces of form, and the fact he lines up off the exact same mark he triumphed off last season, 146, gives Paul Nicholls’ charge every chance of defending his crown in Scotland this weekend. 


ARPEGE D’ALENE                                        

OR: 145    Weight: 11-9

Trainer:  P. Nicholls

Jockey:  S. Bowen

You get the impression that there isn’t a race run over a trip too far for Paul Nicholls’ second contender Arpege D’Alene, who finished a creditable fourth in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last month, 2 places and 3 and a quarter lengths behind the re-opposing Missed Approach.

The stamina laden son of Dom Alco certainly doesn’t do anything quickly, and often takes his time in the air. But a second placed effort behind the talented Singlefarmpayment at Cheltenham in November reads well, and if able to stay in contention he’s likely to be battling on when others are crying for mercy. 


SELDOM INN

OR: 145    Weight: 11-9

Trainer:  S. Thompson 

Jockey:  D.Fox

Scottish based trainer Sandy Thompson sent out Seeyouatmidnight to be third in this last year, however a recent set back means the talented 9-year-old will sadly miss the race this this time around, which leaves stablemate Seldom Inn carrying the hopes of the yard tomorrow. Twice a winner at Kelso this season, beating the talented duo Tenor Nivernais and Le Mercurey on the latter occasion, Seldom Inn finished 7 lengths behind the Venitia Williams trained Yala Enki at the Scottish venue last time out and will be trying this stamina stretching trip for the very first time. 

The 9-year-old will line up off a career high mark of 145. He needs to improve, but you couldn’t rule him out. 


BATTLE OF SHILOH

OR: 142    Weight: 11-6

Trainer:  T. George 

Jockey:  A. Heskin

The lightly raced Battle Of Shiloh boasts a very impressive CV, winning both of his starts between the flags, both starts over timber and arriving here with a record of 2 victories from 3 starts over fences, with his sole defeat coming when falling last time out at Chepstow. However it has to be said, he did look held at the time.

Whether the 8-year-old possesses the required experience to land a race of this nature remains to be seen. But Tom George and Adrian Heskin have enjoyed a superb 2016/17 campaign, and this would certainly be the cherry on the cake if they could land he spoils here. 


SOUTHFIELD ROYALE                                

OR: 141   Weight: 11-5

Trainer:  Neil Mulholland

Jockey:  Noel Fehily

Well supported for the Kim Muir Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival last month,  Neil Mulholland’s talented Bay fell at the ninth when tracking the leaders, and heads up north in search of ample compensation.

The son of Presenting ran a very disappointing race in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster in January, which saw the handicapper drop the 7-year-old 6lbs to a mark of 141, a mark that looks very dangerous on the form of his fourth placed finish in the 2016 National Hunt Chase, with Gold Cup second and third Minella Rocco (166) and Native River (167) finishing first and second respectively, last year’s winner of this race Vicente (146) coming home fifth and subsequent Becher Chase victor Vieux Lion Rouge (155) back in sixth. 

Champion Hurdle and Champion Chase winning jockey Noel Fehily will do the steering. 


DANCING SHADOW

OR: 139    Weight: 11-3

Trainer:  V. Dartnall

Jockey:  N. Scholfield

Pulled up in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festsival, Dancing Shadow tasted Edinburgh National (4m176y) success at Musselburgh on his penultimate start, and connections will be hoping another trip up north will see the stamina laden son of Craigsteel bounce back to form. 

Also a winner over 3m2f at Doncaster in December, the imposing 8-year-old made light work of his opposition, which included 2013 Scottish Grand National winner Godsmejudge, to score easily in the hands of Nick Scholfield. The ground and the trip look ideal. 


PREMIER BOND

OR: 139    Weight: 10-11

Trainer:  N. Henderson

Jockey:  D. Bass

Premier Bond caught the eye when finishing third in the Kim Muir Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival last month, beaten just 1 and a half lengths by the winner, Domesday Book. Clearly stamina is very much the 7-year-old’s forte, and the bookmakers haven’t missed him as he’s been more of less favourite since the antepost market was formed. 

Second to stablemate and dual Grade 1 winner Might Bite on his first start over the larger obstacles at Doncaster in December, Henderson’s son of Kayf Tara won easily next time out before returning to Doncaster and recording a gusty success over Alan King’s Kerrow. Clearly the youngster isn’t scared of a fight, which will certainly stand him in good stead here. 


STRAIDNAHANNA

OR: 139    Weight: 10-11

Trainer:  Sue Smith

Jockey:  S. Quinlan

Sue Smith’s battle hardened 8-year-old returns for a second bite of the cherry after pulling up in the race last year. But it certainly won’t be an easy task off a mark just 1lb shy of a career high rating.

Nonetheless, Straidnahanna put in a typically gutsy performance when landing the North Yorkshire Grand National (3m5f214y) at Catterick in January. And although the son of Medaaly races off a 6lbs higher mark here, he’s sure to put his best foot forward. 


SHOTGUN PADDY 

OR: 137    Weight: 10-9

Trainer:  E. Lavelle

Jockey:  D. Jacob

Shotgun Paddy is becoming a standing dish in these hugely competitive marathon events, and finished a throughly respectable tenth in this contest last year. 

Emma Lavelle’s battle hardened 10-year-old finished third in both the Betfred Classic Handicap Chase and Betfred Eider Handicap Chase on his last 2 visits to the track, beaten just 10 and a half lengths by impressive Grand National winner One For Arthur at Warwick. The gallant son of Brian Boru hasn’t always jumped with the greatest of fluency, but he certainly has an engine.


BENBENS                                                

OR: 135    Weight: 10-13

Trainer:  N. Twiston-Davies

Jockey:  Mr Z. Baker (7)

Without a win since October 2015, the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained 12-year-old has only raced 4 times subsequently, returning to the track after 11 months off in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter last month when pulling up before the penultimate fence. 

Whether the fire still burns within Benbens remains to be seen, but his shrewd trainer wouldn’t persist with him if he felt the fight had gone. Zak Baker will be on board. 


LESSONS IN MILAN

OR: 135    Weight: 10-13

Trainer:  N. Henderson

Jockey:  J. McGrath

Eighth in the Kim Muir Challenge Cup at Cheltenham last month, the Trevor Hemmings owned 9-year-old tackles this trip for the very first time. The Milan gelding lines up off the same mark he ran off at Cheltenham, and it’s quite possible he could improve for the extra yardage here. 

Second in a decent Class 3 event at Newbury on his penultimate start, Lessons In Milan also finished third to his potentially smart stablemate Beware The Bear at the same course in December. He’s one of 3 Seven Barrows inmates who could go well here. 


AL CO

OR: 135    Weight: 10-13

Trainer:  P. Bowen

Jockey:  J. Moore

Peter Bowen, Jamie Moore and Al Co team up in an attempt to double up in the Ayr marathon, having first landed the prestigious prize in 2014. A 5lbs lower mark will certainly aid the 12-year-old son of Dom Alco, however the gallant old boy has failed to complete on 2 of his last 3 visits to the racecourse, with an eleventh placed effort in a 12 runner contest offering no encouragement as to the geldings chances. 

A winner at Aintree in May of last year, in racing you can never say never. But there looks to be a plethora of up and coming staying chasers engaged in the race this year, and Al Co may struggle to keep tabs on them all. 


ANOTHER HERO

OR: 135    Weight: 10-13

Trainer:  J. O’Neill

Jockey:  A. Coleman

Jonjo O’Neill and Aidan Coleman have formed a productive partnership this season, and they once again team up tomorrow as Another Hero heads North in search of Scottish Grand National success.

Fourth in a Listed contest at Ascot in December, the JP McManus owned 8-year-old finished third on his penultimate start when taking in the ultra competitive Skybet Chase at Doncaster in January off a mark 1lb higher than he carries into battle tomorrow.

Thirteenth in the Kim Muir Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, the decent ground and recent good form of his trainer are definite positives here. 


HENRI PARRY MORGAN

OR: 135    Weight: 10-13

Trainer:  P.  Bowen 

Jockey:  R. Dunne

It’s fair to say Peter Bowen’s 9-year-old has slightly lost his way this season, which started with an eleventh placed effort in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury when sent off a relatively well fancied 10/1 chance. Fifteenth in the Grade 3 Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last month, the son of Brian Boru went on to Aintree where he finished sixth in a Listed handicap chase, staying on well, but never threatening the principles. 

Jumping has regularly been the achilles heel of Bowen’s charge, and he’ll have to pull it all together if he harbours aspirations of playing a major role here. However it’s easy to think he’s well treated off a mark of 135. 


VINTAGE CLOUDS

OR: 134    Weight: 10-12

Trainer:  S. Smith

Jockey:  D. Cook

Another contender for both Sue Smith and Trevor Hemmings, Vintage Clouds boasts some fair form for a novice, including when running a huge race in the Grade 3 Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last month, forming part of an elite group that kicked clear on the turn for home before coming to grief at the penultimate fence. 

The promising 7-year-old son of Cloudings finished third behind Vieux Lion Rouge and subsequent Grand National fourth Blaklion in the Grand National Trial at Haydock in February, which puts a tick in the box concerning stamina whilst also providing the youngster with some valuable experience in open handicap company. He could go well here in the hands of Danny Cook. 


SUGAR BARON

OR: 134    Weight: 10-12

Trainer:  N. Henderson

Jockey:  N. De Boinville

A staying on sixth in the Kim Muir Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, Nicky Henderson’s 7-year-old did all of his best work at the finish, which bodes well for this extreme test of stamina. Dropped 1lb by the handicapper for that effort, that can only be considered a bonus. Sugar Baron ran out a 4 and a half length winner from subsequent Grade 2 scorer Present Man on chasing debut at Wincanton last May, and ran a huge race at Prestbury Park on just his fourth start over fences. 

The master of Seven Barrows sent out Vyta Du Roc to finish fifth in the race last year, and Henderson will be hoping Sugar Baron can improve upon that placing. 


BLAKEMOUNT

OR: 134    Weight: 10-12

Trainer:  S. Smith

Jockey:  H. Brooke

Sue Smith’s third and final contender is Blakemount, who has always threatened to have a decent contest in him despite a succession of defeats when sent off a well supported favourite. Twice a winner over fences, both of those victories came at Carlisle. 

Fifth in the Midlands Grand National (4m1f92y) last time out, the trip and ground Gold no fears. Henry Brooke takes the ride. 


FIREBIRD FLYER

OR: 133    Weight: 10-11

Trainer:  E. Williams

Jockey:  T. O’Brien

Winner of the 2016 Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter, Evan Williams’ charge was pulled up when attempting to defend his crown last month. Eight in the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow in December, the 10-year-old failed to complete on each of his next 3 trips to the racecourse. 

Eighth over hurdles at Ffos Las earlier this month, connections will be hoping that proved a confidence boosting outing for the son of Winged Love. However he has shown a preference for softer ground in the past. 


DAWSON CITY

OR: 133    Weight: 10-11

Trainer:  P. Gundry 

Jockey:  W. Hutchinson

Off the mark over fences at the eleventh time of asking last time out, the manor in which the 8-year-old got the job done (won by 32L) suggested there could be plenty more to come. If that is the case, Polly Gundry could have a very well treated horse on her hands. 

The main problem however could be the ground, with the Midnight Legend gelding racing almost exclusively on a surface with plenty of cut. That said, the presence of Wayne Hutchinson in the saddle is a definite bonus, and he arrives here on the back of a confidence boosting win. 


TRUSTAN TIMES

OR: 132    Weight: 10-10

Trainer:  M. Walford

Jockey:  J. Greenall

2014 third Trustan Times lines up in the race for the third time tomorrow, this year warming up for the marathon with a handicap hurdle win at Kelso earlier this month. Pulled up in the 2015 renewal, the gallant 11 year old runs off a mark 8lbs lower tomorrow. 

Having only raced twice since this race in 2015, clearly the son of Heron Island has had his problems. But he confirmed his well being with his victory at Kelso, and Mark Walford will be hoping the gallant old boy can use that as a springboard to Scottish Grand National success here. 


PORTRAIT KING

OR: 124    Weight: 10-9

Trainer:  P. Griffin

Jockey:  C. O’Farrell

Eighth in the Midlands Grand National last month, Patrick Griffin’s grand 12-year-old ran a huge race to finish third in the hugely competitive Topham Chase at Aintree last time out, making up plenty of ground on the run for home after getting some cover early on. Those with long memories may remember Portrait King finishing tenth in this race in 2012, which is a great credit to connections who have plotted his career so well. 

Clearly the hardy chaser is in fine order at present, and he should enjoy the decent ground he’ll encounter at Ayr tomorrow. Conor O’Farrell takes the ride, which is a positive as the pair got on well when teaming up at Aintree. 


COGRY

OR: 131    Weight: 10-9

Trainer:  N. Twiston-Davies

Jockey:  J. Bargary (3)

If there’s a horse is training that deserves a huge slice of luck it must be the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Cogry, who endured a tough time over fences in the Autumn when falling, being brought down and unseating in 3 consecutive starts. However there have been sparks of a revival since the turn of the year, with a victory over timber at Cheltenham on New Years Day providing a much needed confidence booster. 

Sixth in the Midlands Grand National, the 8-year-old finished second at Ffos Las earlier this month, and a mark of 131 certainly looks exploitable at some stage. 


ALVARADO

OR: 129    Weight: 10-7

Trainer:  F. O’Brien

Jockey:  B. Hughes

Second in the race last year, Fergal O’Brien’s likeable warrior flew up the home straight to take the silver medal in the shadow of the post. And lining up off a 6lbs lower mark this year, it’s entirely possible the gallant chestnut with the big white blaze will be on the premises at the business end once again. Fourth in both the 2014 and 2015 Aintree Grand National’s, unfortunately the stamina laden son of Goldmark failed to make the cut this year, and connections will be dreaming of gaining valuable compensation in Scotland tomorrow. 

Brian Hughes has enjoined a superb 2016/17 season, currently sitting second behind only Richard Johnson on 140 winners. This would represent the perfect ending to brilliant campaign for the go too man in the North. 


GONE TOO FAR

OR: 129    Weight: 10-7

Trainer:  D. Pipe

Jockey:  M. Heard (5)

Switched to Pond House in the summer of 2016, Gone Too Far has only ran 3 times for his new connections, each time at Ludlow. Pulled up either side of a fourth placed effort in January, this looks a huge ask of the 9-year-old son of Kayf Tara. 

In races of this nature we all know you can never say never. But it would be a fair surprise if Gone Too Far landed the spoils here. And the form of his trainer (0 from 24 in the last 14 days) certainly doesn’t enhance his claims. 


FATHER EDWARD

OR: 128    Weight: 10-6

Trainer:  D. Pipe

Jockey:  D. Noonan

David Pipe’s second contender, who is also owned by Fergus Wilson, would certainly look the pick of the Pond House pair, arriving here after running fifteenth in the Kim Muir Challenge Cup at Cheltenham before a ninth placed effort in the Topham Chase at Aintree earlier this month.

It’s still not easy to see the Flemensfirth gelding playing a major role here, but at least he brings reasonable handicap form to the table. 


MAN WITH VAN

OR: 127    Weight: 10-5

Trainer:  P. Griffin

Jockey:  A. Short (7)

Pulled up in the 2015 running of the race, Man With Van returned to the track after 13 months on the sidelines with an eighth place finish in a handicap hurdle at Navan in February, and provides Patrick Griffin with a second string to his bow tomorrow.

Lightly raced for his age, the 11-year-old runs off a mark of 129, which looks fair based on his form of 2 years ago. However it certainly won’t be easy on just his second start after such a layoff. 


SUMMARY:

Vicente is the obvious starting point as he lines up off the same mark he carried to success last year. If non the worse for his early exit at Aintree, he should go very close in his title defence tomorrow. 

Whilst Nicky Henderson has solid contenders in the form of Kim Muir third and sixth Premier Bond and Sugar Baron. Of the pair, i’d have a preference for the latter who looks well treated off a mark of 134 and can rely on the services of stable Jockey Nico De Boinville. 

Of those at the bottom of the weights, Cogry and last year’s second Alvarado look the 2 who could make the most of the weight they receive from many of the main protagonists. 

That said, SOUTHFIELD ROYALE looks dangerously well handicapped off a mark of 141 judged on his form as a novice last year, when easily scoring in Grade 2 company before a fine second placed Grade 1 effort at Kempton. He represents the in form partnership of Neil Mulholland, who does really well in staying events, and Noel Fehily, who has enjoyed another superb season. He’s the selection. 

Of the novices, who do have a good record in this race, the Sue Smith trained VINTAGE CLOUDS really caught the eye before crashing out at the penultimate fence at the Cheltenham Festival. A mark of 134 certainly looks exploitable at some stage, and the 7-year-old’s performance behind Vieux Lion Rouge and Blaklion at Haydock in February shows he’s more than capable of mixing it with the big boys in open handicap company. 


SELECTIONS:

Southfield Royale   10/1

Vintage Clouds   16/1


FOOTNOTE: 

Obviously it’s also the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr tomorrow, and whilst unfortunately I dont have the time to preview the race, I will give a strong mention to the Alan King trained Winter Escape. 

Fifth in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, Winter Escape has always been held in high regard at Barbury Castle, and the 6-year-old could easily be dangerously well handicapped off a mark of 141 on this decent racing surface. 

The son of Robin De Pres was the subject of a huge antepost gamble for the Grade 3 Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in November but could only finish eleventh, despite being sent off a strong 3/1 favourite.  The youngster reportedly returned home vey sick, and wasn’t seen again until March. 

A Grade 2 winner at Kempton in February 2016, Winter Escape could easily prove better than a mark of 141, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see plenty of market support.  He may be favourite, but the 5/1 generally available looks a very fair price. 


SELECTION:

Winter Escape   5/1

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