The Scottish Grand National has been run at its present home of Ayr racecourse since 1966 due to the closure of Bogside in 1965. First run at that venue in 1867 when won by the Duke Of Hamilton’s The Elk, the race originally took place over three miles, a distance later increased and run under it’s present title since 1880. Several horses have completed the English – Scottish Grand National double, the most recent being Little Polvier and Earth Summit, but the only horse to win both races in the same year was Red Rum in 1974. Both Neville Crump and Ken Oliver trained the winner on five occasions between 1949 and 1983 but more recently Nigel Twiston-Davies and Ferdy Murphy have the best record with three winners apiece.
Should last year’s winner Al Co, a first fence faller at Aintree last week, prove victorious on Saturday the Peter Bowen-trained ten-year-old will become the first back-to-back winner of the stamina test since Androma in 1984/85. The Paul Nicholls stable is likely to be represented by Sam Winner and Benvolio who will be the last ride in the race for champion jockey Tony McCoy while Sam Twiston-Davies takes the mount on the top weight who pulled up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on his last start. Houblon Des Obeaux, another who failed to make any impact in the race won by Coneygree at Prestbury Park, is the only other horse handicapped to carry more than 11 stone with 50% of the entries set to carry less than the minimum ten stone. With a maximum permitted field of 30 those handicapped on 9st 12 lb or less are at risk of missing the cut.
1.Sam Winner – In good form this season but pulled up in Cheltenham gold Cup last time and 15lb higher than when winning a handicap at Prestbury Park back in November. Tough task at the weights. 14-1 Generally.
2.Houblon Des Obeaux – Only 2lb higher than when runner up to subsequent Grand National winner Many Clouds in Newbury’s Hennessy Gold Cup and deserves to win a big prize but this soft ground lover may find the going a little bit too lively on this occasion.25-1 Ladbrokes and William Hill.
3.Lie Forrit – Would prove a very popular winner and this consistent eleven-year-old has been in terrific form this season, winning Haydock’s Betfred Grand National Trial on most recent start but 9lb higher now and badly-in with Broadway Buffalo who went off favourite for that race and was going well until falling at the sixteenth.16-1 Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and Betvictor.
5.Goonyella – Winner of Uttoxeter’s Midlands Grand National last time but this thorough stayer may find things happening too quickly on the expected decent ground.25-1 Generally.
6.Al Co – 5lb Higher than when winning 12 months ago and had been trained with Aintree in mind – a plan which got no further than the first fence, so connections now adopt plan B and every chance of another bold showing.16-1 Paddy Power and Ladbrokes.
7.Benvolio – With AP on board sure to prove popular and a reproduction of his short head second in the Welsh Grand National back in December would put this lightly-raced eight-year-old bang in the mix. Form to date however has been on soft/heavy so difficult to know whether livelier conditions are a plus or minus.16-1 Generally.
9.Milborough – Eider Chase winner this season so no doubts regarding trip and open to more improvement but up 10lb and Newcastle form has not stood up in recent weeks.20-1 Betway.
10.Indian Castle – This very good novice proved a disappointment early in the season but ran really well when fourth in Cheltenham Festival handicap and leading contender if staying the marathon trip.22-1 Betway.
13.Samstown – Looked an out-and-out stayer when slogging it out to win Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock in January but showed enough pace on decent ground when taking Kelso handicap hurdle to suggest he is capable of putting up a bold show in a race of this nature.25-1 Generally.
14.Sego Success – Only four runs over fences and progressive until managing just a respectable fifth place in National Hunt Chase and on same terms has seventeen lengths to make up on Broadway Buffalo.14-1 Generally.
15.Broadway Buffalo – Only one win from 9 starts over fences but plenty of good efforts, nonemoreso than when finding only Cause Of Causes too good in National Hunt Chase and looks on a fair mark of 141. Leading player.12-1 Generally.
17.Catching On – Was sent off a well-backed 5-2 favourite for Uttoxeter’s Midlands Grand National on the back of an impressive victory in Exeter’s Devon National but got no further than the eighth fence before falling and races off a 9lb higher mark here but one of the least exposed runners and one of the more likely winners if jumping hold up.14-1 Betway.
19.Trustan Times – Almost fell at the first last year yet ran a cracker to be beaten less than two lengths by Al Co and weighted to turn the tables. Out of form for most of this season but respectable run in Pertemps Final Hurdle latest and has a great chance if reproducing his run of 12 months ago. 16-1 Generally.
20.The Last Samuri – Excellent record with three wins from four starts over fences and unlucky not to be unbeaten having unseated in other when looking the most likely winner. Lacks the experience of most and trip an unknown but dangerous to discount with a 6 from 9 win ratio over hurdles and fences.16-1 Generally.
24.Gallant Oscar – Like several of these failed to make the cut for Crabbie’s Grand National last week and comes into this on back of third at Cheltenham Festival and no surprise to see this Irish challenger go close for shrewd stable.12-1 William Hill.
27.Cogry – Comes from a stable that has won this race on three occasions and has taken well to fences but looks held by Broadway Buffalo on National Hunt Chase form and possibly better at slightly shorter trip.25-1 Betway.
33.Drop Out Joe – Unexposed seven-year-old who was let down by his jumping when second to Wayward Prince in Doncaster’s Grimthorpe Chase but capable of a big run if getting his jumping together.28-1 Skybet.