The flat season may already be upon us but there are still a couple of decent National Hunt stayers’ prizes to be had this April. The Bet365 Gold Cup rounds of the season at Sandown on Saturday 29th April but before that is the renewal of the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr this Saturday 22nd April. The most valuable staying handicap chase north of Aintree, it has provided some high profile winners down the years including Red Rum and other Grand National winners Little Polveir and Earth Summit. It’s a gruelling four miles and takes a lot out of decent stayers who have already had a long, tough season.
The Coral Scottish Grand National Festival 21-22 April 2017
This year’s Coral Scottish National at Ayr is, as usual, an extremely open affair. With several horses vying for joint favouritism at around 10/1, it’s an extremely competitive renewal of the Northern jumps circuit blue riband. As it stands, Premier Bond leads the market (9/1 with bet365, Ladbrokes, Coral) although I’ve picked out five from the handicap who represent better value. All bets placed now are non-runner no bet. Each way is also the way to go as the card will probably have up to 30 runners going to post so this is a good place to start.
The Coral Scottish Grand National is always a competitive affair.
At the time of writing, Paddy Power and Sky Bet lead the pack with 6 places offered at each way, 1/5 the odds. Ladbrokes are close behind offering 5 places with 1/4 odds. Therefore, we’ll take a look at the some of the best each way chances in the race.
Missed Approach goes into the race after a splendid second to Tiger Roll in the Amateurs Challenge Cup at The Cheltenham Festival. That was run over 4 miles, the same distance in this race and he appeared to relish the trip so he looks solid to be involved at the business end. Trainer Warren Greatex has high hopes for him and the Lambourn handler is running into a little bit of form with 4 winners in the last two weeks. Missed Approach looks a decent proposition at 16/1 best with Sky Bet, Betfred and Paddy Power although he is carrying top weight in this contest.
Missed Approach carries top weight but is highly regarded by his trainer Warren Greatex
Another one who might improve is the Nicky Henderson trained Sugar Baron who stayed on eye-catchingly well in the Kim Muir Challenge Cup at The Cheltenham Festival. He had earlier been hampered in the race so it was a decent performance to finish 7 lengths 6th behind Domesday Book. Interestingly he was only several lengths behind race favourite Premier Bond in this also. He’ll probably want the ground to be a little on the softer side but he still represents something of an each way option at 20/1, widely available.
Vintage Clouds gets in with a squeak now that he is down in the weights. This Sue Smith trained 7 year old has an issue getting over the fences lately having fallen twice in his last three runs, however, he did run a good race behind Vieux Lion Rouge at Haydock in February. Although he didn’t make much impression on the leaders that day, Vintage Clouds suggested he could stay the 4 miles having run 3 miles 4 furlongs for the first time. He is very well handicapped and looks a decent each way proposition at 14/1 with most firms although Paddy Power and SkyBet have the 6 places on offer for each way bets.
Another one who has bits and pieces of form, and has been interestingly nipped at in the market in the last day or so is the Philip Hobbs trained Kruzhlinin. He didn’t run to his best last time out at Haydock in February but did produce 3 decent runs before that, but he will need the ground to soften up more to stand a chance of making the frame but the 33/1 with bet365 seems a good value. 25/1 with Sky Bet and Paddy Power for the 6 places offer.
We save the best until last! Paul Nicholls has a strong hand in this year’s renewal and along with Vicente, he has also entered the classy Arpege D’Alene. This 7 year old is the definition of consistency and always puts in a bold show. His latest run, a decent 4th behind Tiger Roll in the Amateur Challenge Cup over 4 miles is good enough form to come into firm reckoning here. He’s hardly ever out of the first three and is extremely versatile: he will act on any going. He’s an established staying chaser having proved himself over 3 miles and 4 respectively and will not be troubled by the extended trip of the Scottish National. He is generally a 10/1 shot but is available at 12/1 with William Hill but with just the 4 places paid for each way bets.
The classy and in form Arpege D’Alene. Our selection for this year’s Scottish Grand National!
Plenty in with a shout for this highly competitive staying chase. I would say that Vintage Clouds and Arpege D’Alene will make solid selections at decent prices and an each way on either of these would be a shrewd choice. Don’t forget to take advantage of the each way promotions offered by Sky Bet and Paddy Power!