STAR PREVIEW: Scottish Grand National

Nationals, huh? You wait all year for one and then two come in the space of a week. The Scottish Grand National (3.35) at Ayr today gives yet another challenge for punters after the Aintree spectacular and this looks likely to be a much tougher task than finding Tiger Roll.

Last year’s third Vintage Clouds was one of our squad last week when falling at the first, and he comes with a big chance again if he’s unscathed after that. The form case for him is compelling, with his only poor run a throwaway effort in the Welsh National which probably owed more to the issue with his wind which was corrected with an operation afterwards that saw him finish second in the Ultima Handicap Chase.

That is already very strong form but with Beware The Bear pulled out thanks to the ground, it’s probably the strongest in the race and 11-1 isn’t a bad weight when he’s now rated 149. He should take the beating if he’s well.

Double up from the Ultima Handicap with Big River, who flew home for fourth that day and who will be very hard to stop if he can put in something like a clear round here. Much of his form stands up extremely well for a mark of only 140.

Crosshue Boy and Dingo Dollar were both shortlisted but the other to focus on might be Impulsive Star, who got stuck in the mud at Cheltenham but who previously was a very impressive winner of the Classic Chase at Warwick. He has subsequent Eider winner Crosspark beaten that day and that was his last run on good ground. He’s now found conditions turning in his favour just in time and can go well.

In the Scottish Champion Hurdle (2.25), Verdana Blue is worth backing on fast ground for obvious reasons and so is Brain Power, who gave a good beating to Silver Streak when last running in the International Hurdle, form which reads very strongly in a handicap context.

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)

2:25 The Scottish Champion Hurdle Race (A Limited Handicap) (Grade 2)
2 pts win Verdana Blue at 5/1 with
1 pt each/way Brain Power at 14/1 with

3:35 The Coral Scottish Grand National Handicap Steeple Chase (Grade 3)
1 pt each/way Vintage Clouds at 15/2 with
1 pt each/way Big River 10/1 with

PROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 1 2017: PROFIT 218.72 points
(excluding Premier League ante-post, 
BREXIT, Valero Texas Open, The Masters)