Irish raiders head the Scottish Grand National betting, aiming to replicate their Aintree success at Ayr (4.10pm, Saturday live on Channel 4).
Gordon Elliott’s Cause Of Causes is strongly fancied at 12/1 but he has been clobbered by the handicapper for his impressive win in the Kim Muir. A hike of nearly a stone is quite a mountain to climb. On the positive side we know that Causes Of Causes stays four miles. Owned by JP McManus (pictured), he won over this distance at the Cheltenham Festival last year in the National Hunt Chase for amateur riders. That was on good to soft ground off level weights. Cause Of Causes was also far from disgraced in the Grand National last year, finishing 27 lengths behind Many Clouds.
Now an eight-year-old, Cause Of Causes missed the cut at Aintree but the National demonstrated the additional disadvantage of shouldering top weight on testing ground. I would have fancied him at the bottom of the weights at Aintree but carrying top weight he is less appealing here.
Another eight-year-old raider is Measureofmydreams, the 10/1 joint-favourite. He was last seen finishing third in the four miler for amateur riders at the Festival, beaten seven lengths by Minella Rocco. It was only his third start over fences and a very creditable effort, especially as he blundered badly early on.
Trained by Willie Mullins for Gigginstown, Bryan Cooper is making a rare trip to Scotland to partner him. Measureofmydreams should not be troubled by soft ground but shouldering more than 11 stone is not going to be easy.
The Gigginstown second string Folsom Blue (20/1) is saddled by the National winning trainer, Mouse Morris. This nine-year-old son of Old Vic was only beaten six lengths by his stablemate, Rogue Angel, in the Irish National in March. He ‘kept on at the same pace’ under Andrew Ring and might be suited by this slightly longer distance. His mark has risen 3lb for that effort. He will benefit from Ring’s 5lb claim again and is not without hope of providing Morris with a National hat trick.
Tony Martin sends out well-backed Heathfield (11/1), apparently the JP McManus second string. This nine-year-old looks to have plenty of stamina, taking a three mile six furlong handicap on soft at Punchestown last May off a mark of 120.
Heathfield was well beaten in his first three runs this season but appeared to be back on form after an absence of over two months when taking a handicap hurdle at Navan two weeks ago. Now rated 133, we will find out what he is made of. Barry Geraghty’s decision to partner Cause Of Causes may not inspire confidence, but the money says otherwise.
A locally trained contender is Sandy Thomson’s Seeyouatmidnight (16/1). This eight-year-old son of Midnight Legend failed to fire on the unsuitably good ground in the RSA but has scored three times this season. In January Seeyouatmidnight won at Prestbury Park, beating Nigel Twiston-Davies’ RSA winner, Blaklion three lengths in very testing ground.
Seeyouatmidnight is untested beyond three miles but Thomson has always said that he needs slow ground to show his best. He is going to get it here. The 5lb claim of Steven Fox (who has scored twice in his past four rides for Thomson) should aid his chances of getting home.
Dr Richard Newland won the Grand National with Pineau De Re in 2014 and took home some minor place money with Royale Knight last year. Both failed to make the cut for Aintree last week. Now a 13-year-old, Pineau De Re (33/1) is a bit long in the tooth but should give Nico de Boinville a decent ride round.
Royale Knight (16/1) appears to have stronger claims. This 10-year-old has run well over hurdles in his last two outings and won the Durham National at Sedgefield in October off a mark of 136. He should be able to handle the 6lb rise since that success and looks likely to give a good account of himself. Four of Newland’s past eight runners have scored, strengthening his hopes. Brendan Powell rode him in the National last year and has chosen to partner him.
Golden Chieftain (16/1) and Masters Hill (40/1) are saddled by Colin Tizzard. He is enjoying the season of a lifetime and it is not just his stable stars that are scoring. The 11-year-old Golden Chieftain won two handicap chases this term but has been frustrating to follow recently. He was seven lengths clear of the field in the Midlands National last month but fell at the last. It was a similar story in his previous run in a veterans chase at Exeter – except that he fell three out.
The positive spin on his tendency to have a lie down is that his mark has risen only 4lb. Had he completed at Uttoxeter it would have been a very different story. Usually partnered by Brendan Powell, Tom O’Brien has the challenge of keeping him upright. If he succeeds Golden Chieftain has to have major claims.
The 10-year-old Masters Hill has been placed in his past three runs, most recently at Taunton a month ago where he was beaten a head by Goodtoknow. That was over three and a half miles on good to soft. He was giving the winner 5lb. He jumped slightly left but his show of stamina was encouraging, especially as he pulled up in the Welsh National in January on heavy ground.
Masters Hill usually wears cheekpieces and seems to have benefitted from the use of a tongue tie in his last two outings. Blinkers are being tried for the first time. If they have the desired effect Masters Hill could be thereabouts at the finish but the testing ground is a concern.
Goodtoknow (33/1) also lines up for the all-conquering Kerry Lee. He meets Masters Hill off level weights as he was raised 4lb for his success at Taunton. This eight-year-old is not a typical son of Presenting, three of his four wins have been on heavy ground. Lee has an impressive 29% strike rate in chases and this test of stamina might suit Goodtoknow. At his current price he is tempting as an each-way prospect.
Nicky Henderson’s Vyta Du Roc (14/1) is untested beyond three miles. This seven-year-old took a Grade 2 novice chase over three miles on soft at Ascot in February but ‘held on’ rather than stayed on well at the finish. He was tapped for toe next time out at and was beaten 10 lengths in the RSA. Whether he will get four miles in mud is questionable.
Another seven-year-old Vicente (20/1) was beaten 15 lengths in the four mile chase for amateurs at the Festival ‘plugging on’ up the run-in, unable to trouble the leaders. He scored at the same venue in November over three miles on good to soft but has not sparkled since. The patchy form of Paul Nicholls’ chasers makes him difficult to follow.
Tom George’s A Good Skin (25/1) finished second to Cause Of Causes in the Kim Muir, beaten 12 lengths. He was receiving 7lb and put in his best work at the end of the race. He meets Cause Of Causes on much more favourable terms here and should not be troubled by soft ground. The yard is in good form. If the seven-year-old A Good Skin gets the extra distance, he stands a decent chance of providing jockey Paddy Brennan with place money at least.
Blinkers are being tried for the first time on Warren Greatrex’s Ballyculla (25/1) even though he won last time out at Wetherby in his usual cheekpieces in March. This nine-year-old started as the favourite in the Eider in February but he didn’t jump well and eventually tipped up. Ballyculla is proven over four miles, finishing 20 lengths behind Cause Of Causes at the Festival last year. He looked one-paced but is not without a chance in testing conditions.
Our Preview’s Scottish Grand National Each-Way Betting Tip
It is no coincidence that the vast majority of Scottish Grand National winners have carried less than 11 stone, lessening the appeal of two of the three market leaders, Cause Of Causes and Measureofmydreams. The third, Heathfield, carries just 10st 7lb and comes from a shrewd yard with an owner who likes a tilt at the ring. He should cope with conditions and the money may prove well informed.
Folsom Blue (20/1) looks a very decent each-way chance carrying just 10st 3lb but our Scottish Grand National betting tip has to be Colin Tizzard’s GOLDEN CHIEFTAIN each-way. The stable is flying, he gets the distance, copes with mud and is overdue a clear round. He is best priced at 16/1 with Coral and BetVictor, both firms that offer each-way place terms of 1/4 odds the first five places.