A look ahead to Ayr’s big race
The Coral Scottish Grand National is one of the highlights of the closing weeks of the National Hunt season, where the staying chasers who excel over marathon distances travel to the west coast of Scotland to do battle.
It is the feature of ITV Racing’s coverage on April 2nd with the race, which is also broadcast on Racing TV, set to go off at 3.35pm.
What is the Coral Scottish Grand National?
Ayr’s biggest National Hunt day of the year is also Scotland’s most valuable jumps contest with up to £150,000 in prize money up for grabs and plenty of prestige on offer to the winner.
The race is run over four miles and 27 fences and often offers a chance for those that have slogged it out in the mud all winter to enjoy some spring ground under their hooves and excel in optimum conditions.
It is also the fourth biggest race in terms of betting turnover in Britain, underlying the race’s standing within the sport.
Who has won the Coral Scottish Grand National in the past?
There is a distinguished roll of honour for Ayr’s big race and it has not been uncommon for the contest to attract those that have tasted success in its English, Welsh or Irish equivalent.
The most famous of all Coral Scottish Grand National winners has to be Red Rum, who did the Grand National/Scottish Grand National double in 1974, while Little Polveir, Earth Summit and Music Hall are others to win at both Aintree and Ayr.
Which trainers do well in the Coral Scottish Grand National?
Paul Nicholls waited 19 years from his first Coral Scottish Grand National victory in 1997 to strike again, but Vicente’s back-to-back victories in 2016 and 2017 make him one of two current trainers on three wins in the race.
The other handler is Nigel Twiston-Davies, who sent out Captain Dibble (1992) and Earth Summit (1994) to win the race, before Hello Bud (2009) made it a hat-trick for the Naunton handler in the hands of Paddy Brennan.
Twiston-Davies is someone who targets the race annually and has also seen his Blue Flight hit the frame in 2019, while his Ballyoptic and Cogry were beaten by the barest of margins into second in 2018 and 2017 respectively.
In 2021 Scottish handler Lucinda Russell won her first Coral Scottish Grand National with Mighty Thunder , ridden by Coral ambassador Tom Scudamore, with trainers from north of the border responsible for five of the first seven home.
As well as Russell, other Scottish trainers of note include Sandy Thomson, Alan King and Nick Alexander.
What type of horse does well in the Coral Scottish Grand National?
Unlike its Welsh equivalent that often requires a real grinder to slog it out in testing deep winter mud, the ground at Ayr is often on the good side, so those who relish a sound surface and some spring sun on their back often come to the fore in the Coral Scottish Grand National.
Nevertheless, the four-mile trip means non-stayers need not apply and you will still require plenty of stamina combined with a sound jumping technique which will withstand 27 fences to triumph in the Coral Scottish Grand National.
It is also a race which doesn’t discriminate against age and in the last 10 years, two 11-year-olds and a 10-year-old have triumphed on the Scottish coast.
Who could win this year’s Coral Scottish Grand National?
If connections do decide to target Aintree, rather than back-to-back victories of this race, then the stable could still be represented by Cheltenham Festival winner CORACH RAMBLER (10/1), who is second favourite for the race with Coral.
Heading the market is KITTY’S LIGHT (8/1), who was second to stablemate Cap Du Nord in the Coral Trophy at Kempton last time and is just 3lb higher for this assignment, while the Christian Williams operation is also represented by the hat-trick seeking WIN MY WINGS (12/1), who outstayed the Classic Chase winner ECLAIR SURF (20/1) when taking the Eider Chase at Newcastle and won’t be found wanting for stamina.
MISTER FOGPATCHES (10/1) was third in the race 12 months ago and although 10lb higher this time, has performed consistently in some red-hot staying chases this season, while THE FERRY MASTER (20/1) was a place further back in fourth last year and is interesting off a 5lb lower rating.
THE WOLF (16/1) has an uncanny knack of putting in a jumping error at a crucial moment, but looks well-handicapped if producing a clear round, while the same owners could also be represented by THREEUNDERTHRUFIVE (12/1) providing he recovers from his Cheltenham Festival exertions in time.
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