Ayr’s Scottish Grand National is always a wide-open race. This year’s topweight Beware The Bear skipped the Topham Trophy at Aintree to run in this. He won the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham last time out and comes here in good form.
Ayr has staged the race since 1966. Bogside was its home before that. In 1963 the Levy Board announced plans to redevelop Ayr as Scotland’s main racecourse and close Bogside. That proved the death knell for the latter. However, it wasn’t quite the end for racing at Bogside because it held point-to-points until 1994.
This year’s Scottish Grand National
Dingo Dollar and Big River head the betting, while Crosshue Boy has also been well-backed. Crosshue Boy beat Dingo Dollar in a good novices’ chase at this same Ayr meeting last year. Dingo Dollar is now 7lb better off for a one length defeat. This will be Crosshue Boy’s first start over conventional fences since that race. Three of his four starts this season were over hurdles while the other was over the Grand National course in the Becher Chase. He has a live chance.
Vintage Clouds finished third in last year’s Scottish Grand National and comes here on the back of a first fence fall in the Grand National itself. He likes to be up with the pace but is prone to make the odd mistake. That proved his downfall at Aintree last week.
The Scottish Grand National is often won by young and improving types. Seven-year-olds Chic Name, winner of last year’s Highlands National at Perth, and Jonjo O’Neill’s Cloth Cap come into that category. The latter carries the same colours as Vintage Clouds but has had only three starts over fences, winning his last two at Stratford and Catterick in November. Chic Name and Cloth Cap both carry the minimum weight of 10st.
Four of the nine winners this decade were in their first season over fences, while three others were in their second. That brings in the six-year-old Blue Flight, winner of three of his five starts this year. At around 16-1, Blue Flight is my each-way tip for this year’s Scottish Grand National.