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15:35 Ayr

The big race of the day this Saturday is the four mile marathon that is the Scottish Grand National.

With 24 runners set to go to post just like any national it’s going to be tricky to unearth the winner but we go through some of the runners and riders and see who should finish in the mix come the finish line.

Current market favourite Kitty’s Light finished as runner up in the Coral Trophy, Charlie Hall and bet365 Gold Cup in the last twelve months and looks to be the classiest horse in the field. To have achieved those accomplishments by the age of six makes you give even more credit to Christian Williams’ charge. I’d be shocked if he didn’t finish in the money but despite those notable performances the fact he hasn’t won in his last seven starts has to make you question whether or not he’s more likely to find a few too good once again.

It's interesting to see Kitty’s Light stablemate Win My Wings vying for favouritism as the yard clearly have a very strong hand. Back to back victories including success in the Eider Chase at Newcastle last time out shows he deserves his spot but I fear after such a hard race, that took place relatively recently, may have left its mark. The booking of top apprentice Rob James is a notably positive step by connections and I’m sure his 7lb claim will help. Of the two Williams pair I’d firmly make him second string.

Another trainer with two entrants is the Irish based Pat Fahy. The bookmakers give Stormy Judge the better chance out of his duo but despite Cheltenham Festival winning rider Danny Mullins in the saddle it’s his other runner I like most. History Of Fashion unseated his rider in the Eider when travelling well enough throughout and was well fancied for the race that day. A prep run for this contest came at Navan so he’ll have dusted off a few cobwebs. The UK handicapper may have given him too much to do but don’t be too shocked to see him there or thereabouts come the final third of the race.

Veteran Vintage Clouds is held in both high regards and in many racing fans hearts and there’d be no warmer welcome back to the winners enclosure if he were to finish in front. He’s not competed in this contest since 2019 but he has a solid race record. With tackling this race three times he’s finished 7th, 3rd and 6th and although my heart is praying for a big run my head has to come down on the side of him now not being the force he once was and the best he can likely hope for is another top ten finish.

Rank outsider Strong Economy is currently priced at around 100/1 but that looks drastically unfair based on his course form. All four of his career victories have come here at Ayr and of course this is a marked step up in competition he can handle this marathon trip and although there’s runners with better credentials, I wouldn’t wholeheartedly dismiss his chances entirely.

Fantastikas was well fancied for The Ultima at the Cheltenham Festival and ran with credit to finish 7th. A consistent type who often runs a solid race I feel he’ll relish this longer trip but I fear the weight he’s burdened with may be too much to carry over this marathon distance.

El Paso Wood produced somewhat of a shock to finish 4th in the Midlands National at a massive 80/1. The bookies wont be brave enough to offer such huge odds this time around especially as he proved he can stay such a large trip. Despite that better performance the handicapper has actually lowered his weight and with trainer David Pipe starting to get his horses firing I’ll be happy to take a chance on the eight year old.

Another one of the quartet of former course winners Streets Of Doyen may do much better than the bookies may think. He didn’t really deserve a place in the Brown Advisory at Cheltenham and the fact he went off at 150/1 and pulled up indicates as such. That race aside however he’s unbeaten here at Ayr and does have a touch of class having finished 3rd in last years Albert Bartlett. This trip is very much an unknown but whenever he’s gone further than three miles he’s tended to do quite well. Hardly a sure fire thing but may be worth a small market check and possibly a small stakes bet if you’re looking for one at a huge price.

Two that do make my shortlist is a horse that finished 4th in this race last year and returns off a more attractive mark and a horse who showed last time out the further he goes the better.

The Ferryman looks to be the best hope of a home victory for Scotland and trainer Sandy Thompson sees this meeting as the pinnacle of his season. He knows how to get a horse ready for the Scottish National and I’d discount his charge at your peril.

Young trainer Olly Murphy sends out The Wolf who showed he relished a marathon distance when a very close and closing second at Musselburgh last time out. That race was just half a furlong shorter than today’s National so it’s safe to say this will be right up his street. He’s never finished outside of the top two when tackling trips of 3m2f or further and seems to handle any types of ground. He may not have won since October 2020 but within that time he was on the sidelines for close to eight months. Since his return he’s produced a trio of solid efforts and hasn’t had as tough a season as most of these rivals. A very accomplished jumper who barely puts a foot wrong at his fences and if he doesn’t get too far back at the start could provide another big day for noted owners the McNeill Family.



written by Rory Paddock

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