Scottish Grand National Preview: Vicente aiming for a hat-trick at Ayr
After the English Grand National at Aintree last week, attention now turns to the Scottish Grand National at Ayr on Saturday.
A maximum field of 30 runners will line-up for the 4m slog with Vicente looking to claim the renewal for the third year in a row at odds of 10/1.
Paul Nicholls’ raider beat Alvarado into second in 2016 and then followed that up with a neck success from Cogry in 2017.
That remains the raider’s last triumph. His three most recent runs read 2-UR-PU.
He clearly likes it around Ayr, though. And it’s that course and distance success that sees the eight-year-old among the market leaders.
A hat-trick of Scottish Grand National wins would put him level in the history books with Couvrefeu II, Southern Hero and Queen’s Taste as the winning-most horse in the event’s history.
Stablemate Vintage Clouds, who is also owned by Trevor Hemmings, sits just ahead of the two-time winner at 8/1.
He has the staying power to mount a challenge. He proved that with a fourth-place finish in the Welsh Grand National and a third-place run in the Ultima Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival.
Those are good form claims. And after coming home seventh last year we think he may go slightly better this time around carrying the same weight.
Doing Fine comes next for trainer Neil Mulholland at 12/1.
The 10-year-old is consistently there or thereabouts over 3m+ and will go fresh after four months off since a 5l defeat over 3m5f at Sandown in December.
He certainly has the quality to mount a challenge. While a weight of 10-06 will only enhance his claims against the main contenders.
Ballyoptic is also rated a 12/1 chance after a fine victory over Vintage Clouds in the Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby in February. He finished fourth behind Presenting Percy in the RSA Chase last month.
Gordon Elliott will be looking up follow up his English Grand National success with Fagan at 12/1. The eight-year-old has rarely finished outside the top-two once in 13 runs since 2014, although he’s never come up against a field with as much depth as this.
He’ll go fresh after a near six-month absence.
Folsom Blue, Henri Parry Morgan, Beware the Bear, The Young Master, Sizing Tennesse and Gold Present are all available at 16/1.
Of that half-a-dozen, it’s Gold Present who holds the best form on the basis of an impressive victory over Frodon in the Lavazza Silver Cup.
Last month’s run in the Ultima can be struck through on account of the heavy ground. A top weight of 11-12 could be a worry, but there’s no doubting the raider’s quality.
Folsom Blue finished fourth by just over a length in the Irish Grand National and warrants obvious attention over the distance.
Mysteree has also shown before that he has what it takes to go well in a big field over the 4m+ distance. Michael Scudamore’s charge has definite each-way claims at 25/1 if the going is soft or better.
Get the latest odds on the Scottish Grand National.
All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication