As the excitement and controversy surrounding the Aintree Grand National subsides somewhat, the Scottish Grand National takes place at Ayr on Saturday, with Harry The Viking 5/1 favourite to land the crown.
The horse is part-owned by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, which will contribute to enhancing his popularity with punters, though the horse has proved its credentials in recent times, not least with victory in a Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase at Doncaster last year.
Trained by Paul Nicholls, the seven-year-old will be gunning to complete a quickfire National double for the man who leads the trainer’s championship running, after Neptune Collonges powered home at Aintree on Saturday.
He achieved an impressive second place finish in the National Hunt Chase at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, and could realise his potential by landing the Scottish National in Saturday’s renewal of the Ayr showpiece.
Amongst the others at the front of the betting, Junior is 8/1 joint-second favourite, maintaining his entry after falling at only the second fence in Saturday’s John Smith’s Grand National.
David Pipe’s nine-year-old will carry top weight in the race, and this, along with the fact that he has proved a much more successful horse in flat races, could deter punters from investing in the gelding.
Merigo could be a more preferable option, also afforded an 8/1 price, and having already shown he can win the race via success here in 2010, he will hope to go one better than his runner-up finish in last year’s chase.
Meanwhile, West End Rocker will take up his place in the field after an early exit from the Aintree proceedings on Saturday.
It seems he will represent Alan King’s main hope for success at 10/1, though the trainer may also afford his novice Walkon a crack at the Ayr circuit, and the seven-year-old grey is currently a 16/1 shot to be first past the post.