Denman's Absence Throws Scottish National Wide Open
Denman’s defection from the £200,000 Coral Scottish Grand National may be a major disappointment for many but most, if not all of the connections of the 40 horses left in the race will be breathing a huge sigh of relief.
The participation of Paul Nicholl’s gelding would have meant that the rest of the field would have been asked to race from outside of the handicap.
With the weights rising by 29lb top weight will now be carried by the Howard Johnson trained Killyglen off 11s 12lb, originally handicapped on 9s 11lb.
Ante-Post favourite for the 4m 1f marathon is Poker De Sivola, ( best priced 7/1 with Ladbrokes and sportingbet ) successful in Cheltenham’s National Hunt Chase under Katie Walsh.
Graham Lee’s mount looks on an attractive 10s 11lb, whereas Denman’s participation would have left the 7 year old 18lb wrong in the weights.
The race was deprived of another quality entry when Welsh National runner-up Silver By Nature was taken out of the contest, after trainer Lucinda Russell announced " He has chipped a bone at the back of his knee and needs six weeks’ box rest."
Trainer Paul Nicholls will now rely on the lightly raced Meanus Dandy, a stand out 9/1 shot with sportingbet, who races off a light weight of 10s 1lb.
The current going at the Ayr venue is good, good to soft in places and with clerk of the course Hazel Peplinski declaring " We will water the whole course on Tuesday and Wednesday and then see where we are," it is unlikely fast ground will be prevalent on Saturday.
In one respect it is a shame that Scottish racegoers and TV viewers will not be able to see the top class chaser ( Denman ) attempt to repeat his impressive handicap victory in Newbury’s Hennessey Gold Cup but at least the event will now be fair to all participants.
A handicap, by definition, is a contest in which all participants have, in theory, an equal chance of winning. Denman’s defection from this Saturday’s race will at least ensure that a mockery is not made of this meaning.