The Scots follow up with their own edition of the Grand National this weekend. Not quite the same test as the Aintree event, nor the Tiger Roll-level of talent on show. The Scottish Grand National’s a more conventional handicapping race that is usually run on fast ground conditions.
Favourites generally have a poor record in recent years. The current jolly is Vintage Clouds, who will make plenty of appeal, particularly for those who fancied him last weekend. He was a first-fence faller at Aintree and although he is entitled to bounce back here, having run so well in this last year, he does have more weight to shoulder and is not always the most fluent at his fences.
Vintage Clouds ran well in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham, won by another well-fancied horse in Beware The Bear – who has risen 9lbs in the weights. Following him in six lengths behind Beware The Bear in fourth, was the strongly staying on BIG RIVER, who was eating up the ground going up the hill over a 3m 1f trip.
Big River ran the most extraordinary of races making mistakes over his first few fences, then being shuffled back, and near last place coming to the home-turn before moving strongly passed a good bunch of staying chasers to take a place.
Hi jumping could have been better in the Ultima. But there is every chance he was a bit rusty having had a long break and if he can cut those errors out and produce on the faster ground then he is a big danger to his rivals.
Big River remains on the same mark of 140 and carries a nice weight (10st 6lbs) for one of the home team’s contenders, racing for the yard of Lucinda Russell. Big River showed some classy enough form as a novice and with this being just his eigth start over fences and his first at a marathon trip there could be a lote more imrovement to come.
It might also be worth taking another chance on IMPULSIVE STAR, who could still be nicely handicapped off a mark of 139.
Impulsive Star has the company of top-amateur Sam Waley-Cohen on-board, who claims a handy 3lbs. A return to good ground and a tight, galloping track may just be the right conditions for Impulsive Star having failed to fire last time at Cheltenham.
He looked like he had plenty in hand when winning a Grade 2 chase at Warwick on his penultimte start of the season over 3m 5f. I think you can put a line through his last run in the four-miler at Cheltenham, when he was badly hampered as the key to him could be this fast going.
He remains relatively lightly-raced over fences having been weighted higher over hurdles and he can put in a bold show in what has been a very lighly-campaigned season. At 18/1, Impulsive Star represents decent each-way value with the likes of Dingo Dollar and Crosshue Boy seeing plenty of market support at single digit odds.
2019 Scottish Grand National Tips: 1pt each-way Big River @11/1, 1pt each-way Impulsive Star @18/1, 15:35 Ayr, Saturday (1,2,3,4,5,6 places, 1/5 odds with various bookmakers)