Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase Betting Tips & Predictions – Ayr, Saturday 13th April 2019

Lovers of Grand Nationals don’t have to wait too long for the next one to roll around following last weekend’s Aintree spectacular, as this Saturday Ayr lays on its biggest race of the year, the Scottish Grand National. The fences may be considerably different than those on Merseyside, but they still need to be jumped and much like the world’s most famous race, it is stamina which will likely prove the number one prerequisite for success here.

With four places up for grabs and five of the past six winners having returned a double figure SP, this looks an ideal race for an each way punt. From a raft of possible contenders, it is a horse who rewarded each way support in the race 12 months ago who we will be backing to do so once again.

Top Tips

Doing Fine each way @ 16/1

Odds correct at time of writing but may have changed since. Check site for latest prices.

Recommended Bookie

Race Info

4m is the trip for this Grade 3 handicap chase, with 27 fences standing between the competitors and glory. Set to be run on good ground this year, the race offers £215,000 in total prize money.

GoingDistanceGradePrize MoneyRunnersEW Terms
Good 4m Grade 3 £215,000 28 Runners 1/4 1-4

Recent Winners

With a spread of winners ranging from seven to 11 years of age, the strongest trend in the past decade concerns the weight carried by the winner. Nine of the last 10 have carried 11st3lb or less on the day.

Nigel Twiston-Davies is the most successful of the trainers represented this year with three previous wins in the race. Twiston-Davies is triple-handed at the time of writing with Blue Fight, Cogry and Arthur’s Gift all set to go to post.

2018 Joe Farrell 33/1 Rebecca Curtis Adam Wedge

Analysis: Mulholland Knows What He’s Doing

Representing one of the last really big pots of the season, it is no surprise to see the majority of the top trainers lining one up for a tilt at the prize this year – with the surprising exception of Paul Nicholls. Even with the absence of the Champion Trainer elect though, the 2019 edition of the race looks well up to scratch.

A Vintage Renewal

With the two events falling so close together, we wouldn’t expect to have too many runners heading here straight from the Aintree Grand National which took place only last week. We do however have one in the shape of the Sue Smith-trained Vintage Clouds. Aintree was undoubtedly the main objective of the season for this Trevor Hemmings-owned runner, but considering he only made it as far as the first fence that day, we can’t imagine that the race would have taken too much out of him. Compensation may await here. This will be his third crack in the race having finished seventh in 2017 off 134, and third last year when running off 141. He’s up to 149 ahead of this year’s edition but may well still be improving, has had wind surgery in the interim and we at least know he handles the track.

Lucinda To Outfox Rivals?

When looking back at the Cheltenham Festival, one of the most eye-catching runs in regard to this race came in this year’s Ultima Handicap Chase. That race was won by the Nicky Henderson-trained Beware The Bear – who also goes here and has sound claims – but it is the horse to have finished back in fourth that day who really grabbed our attention.

Big River certainly isn’t a quick horse and managed to get pretty badly outpaced even over that 3m1f trip on soft ground, but one thing he does do is stay. Seemingly out with the washing halfway around the final circuit, he plodded on determinedly when others had cried enough to be beaten only 6½l at the line. The handicapper has left him untouched for that effort which may just leave him well in now stepping right up in trip here. He is fancied to go well for Lucinda Russell and jockey Derek Fox.

A Fine Each Way Chance

Amongst those at bigger prices one who may well be worth a second look is the Neil Mulholland-trained, Doing Fine. This horse really needs a test to be seen to best effect and as such hasn’t run at all badly in finishing a staying on seventh and fifth over shorter trips in his two most recent starts. He’s been given a nice break since the latest of those runs back in December, using the time to have his wind treated. Considering he finished fourth in the race off 135 last year and gets in off 134 this time around, he would look to have sound each way claims even without factoring in any potential improvement for that wind operation.

Final Verdict: Doing Fine each way

We have plenty in with chances here, with the likes of Beware The Bear and the well backed Dingo Dollar arriving in solid form and looking deserving of their place towards the head of the market. Big River would be our pick of the shorter priced runners though with this longer trip seeming certain to suit. Our one concern however would be that this can be a tough track on which to come from behind, and as such we just prefer an each way punt in the race.

It’s Doing Fine who looks the value bet for us. A potential improver on the back of that wind operation, he arrives here fresher than most, has solid form at the track and looks reasonably handicapped to at least make the frame at rewarding odds.


Ayr Racecourse and Grandstands

It doesn’t take a horse racing specialist to work out that the Scottish Grand National is Scotland’s equivalent of the Grand National at Aintree. This is far from just a copycat race though, it’s a hugely historic contest which has been playing an important part in horse racing north of the border - and indeed all over the UK - for over 150 years.

A Truly Historic Race

Worn Scotland Flag

The first official edition of the Scottish Grand National took place in 1867. Its history goes back even further than that to a race known as the West of Scotland Grand National which was first run in 1858, just shy of 20 years after the inaugural running of the Grand National itself.

That race saw horses face several stone walls and was eventually stopped after objections locally but it had developed such a strong following that it was immediately picked up by Bogside Racecourse. The distance increased whilst at the Irvine track to just shy of the current distance of 4 miles and in 1880 was renamed to the Scottish Grand National.

Some very popular horses took glory after Peacock won in the first race in 1880 and the race thrived up until 1965 when Bogside was closed down. Just like 100 years previously, there was no danger of the Scottish Grand National falling of the schedule. In fact, it’s gone from strength to strength since switching to Ayr in 1966 and is now a Grade 3 contest that’s complemented by the two day Scottish Grand National Festival.

Red Rum’s Record to Stand Forever?

The Scottish Grand National has been broadcast on terrestrial television for decades. The ease of access that provides to a big audience has undoubtedly helped the popularity of the race as has a real smattering of star talent including one of the most loved and famous thoroughbreds of all time.

Red Rum won the Grand National at Aintree a record three times and in 1974 became the only horse in history to win both that race and the Scottish Grand National in the same season. A few horses including Earth Summit and Little Polveir have won both races in different seasons and but none has since repeated Red Rum’s feat and none are ever likely to.

List of Dual Scottish & English Grand National Winners

Horse Year Won Scottish Grand National Year(s) Won Aintree Grand National
Red Rum 1974 1973, 1974, 1977
Little Polevir 1987 1989
Earth Summit 1994 1998

The main reason for this is that the Scottish Grand National is held just one week after the Grand National. Competing over four miles in consecutive weekends, let alone winning, is beyond the capabilities of most horses and many trainers now see the Scottish Grand National as a great chance for their chasing stayers to compete for a big prize if they miss out on a place at Aintree. There was a £215,000 total prize pot in 2018, which isn’t up there with the offering to the south but is still well worth getting hold of.

Stamina Reserves and Jumping Reliability Are Prerequisites

Ayr Racecourse Trackside

The 4 mile trip of the Scottish Grand National is 558 yards shorter than the Aintree equivalent but if you’re running 7,000+ the extra 558 doesn’t make all that much difference. The fences certainly pose a slightly different challenge though. There are three fewer for the horses to jump at Ayr for a total of 27 and they’re not quite as difficult as the notorious fences at Aintree. It’s easy to think that somehow makes the Scottish Grand National an easier race to win but there is nothing easy about it.

Proven stamina is an absolute must for any horse entered in this huge contest. Several horses have been given a big billing in the build up to Ayr only to fail to get the trip. Similarly, several stayers with bags of stamina have seen their chances ended by a sloppy jumping mistake. You’ll sometimes find that jumping class and stamina go hand in hand as getting over big fences safely is as much about how a horse deals with the physical effects of a race as their confidence in facing a jump.

Contact Us

Copyright © 2019 | 18+ BeGambleAware


Disclaimer: Please note that the legality of betting online varies between countries and it is your responsibility to verify that your actions are legal in the country you reside. All offers subject to terms and conditions. Please gamble responsibly - if you feel you may have a problem and need advice please visit Gamble Aware (UK) or Gamblers Anonymous.