Will Denman's Participation in Scottish National Be Bad For Racing?

Gold Cup runner-up Denman has been entered for the Coral-sponsored Scottish Grand National on April 17th, and according to trainer Paul Nicholls is a " very likely runner ," but could racing suffer because of the decision?

It is highly likely that Ayr’s Coral Scottish Grand National, run on Saturday 17th April, will be headed by Gold Cup runner-up Denman, on top weight of 11s 12lb.

Connections have expressed their desire to run the 182 rated chaser in the 4m 1/2f contest, after agreeing it was the obvious race to go for.

On a cautious note the trainer said " If the ground came up quick we wouldn’t risk him, but there’s still an awful lot of rain about and the race is only just over a fortnight away."

While Ayr Racecourse Marketing Manager Lindsey Smith claimed " What a great boost it is for the Coral Scottish National that Denman is amongst the entries," it begs the question: What shape is the race likely to take in two weeks time?

Although the weights for the £200k contest have yet to be revealed, it is possible that apart from the top weight only three other horses are likely to run off their correct mark.

Madison Du Berlais, Silver By Nature and The Tother One are the only three horses handicapped within 26lb of Denman, and therefore every other entry will be at a major disadvantage, if allowed to take part.

With the Bet365 Gold Cup scheduled to take place the following Saturday, it may be that many trainers will now target the Sandown contest rather than run from out of the handicap at Ayr.

The Package, for example, is currently the 10/1 favourite for the Bet365 Gold Cup, but if connections decided to go for the Ayr showpiece the gelding would run from 9lb out of the handicap.

A similar scenario would apply to a large proportion of the Bet365 entries, in which case what kind of field is likely to turn up at Ayr in two weeks time!

The prospect of Denman taking part may create a great deal of interest in the race, but at what cost!

The Scottish National is normally a highly competitive event with plenty of runners and a vibrant betting market. Lets hope Denman’s participation does not result in the race losing it’s appeal as a spectacle and anticipated betting medium!