Friday, April 15, 2016

Scottish Grand National 2016

This year's Scottish National picks up where last week's Grand National left off with a number in the field, having failed to make the cut for the Aintree showpiece, turning out here instead; among them are Cause Of Causes, Midnight Prayer, Royale Knight, Pineau De Re, Highland Lodge and Alvarado.

My overall record in this race doesn't stand up to the closest scrutiny (Milborough's fall early on last year a fair benchmark) but Hello Bud was one of two selections put up for the 2009 renewal.

Mouse Morris and Gigginstown House Stud try for a hat-trick of Grand Nationals with Folsom Blue while in the contest for the trainers' title Willie Mullins sends over Measureofmydreams and Paul Nicholls saddles Vicente.

Nicholls could be worried by the stats which show just two seven-year-old winners since 2000 (Gingembre in 2001 and Godsmejudge in 2013); Godsmejudge was the first horse to carry more than 11-0 to victory since Grey Abbey in 2004.

On the back of his sixth in last year's Grand National, as well as Dr Richard Newland's subsequent remarks, I quietly fancied Royale Knight to run a big race at Aintree and at a fancy price too.

I'm going to stay loyal here; the horse will appreciate testing ground but I have this feeling the opportunity may have passed and quotes of 14/1 for this week's race are nowhere near as tempting as the 50/1 on offer for last week's. It will be important Brendan Powell secures a prominent pitch early on.

Rather ironically, in the Weekender Peter Naughton quotes Dr Newland about the selection's stablemate:

'Pineau De Re did his best piece of work in around two years last week and the race will suit him perfectly.'
Highland Lodge is worthy of a mention on the back of his win in the Becher Chase in December. That day, on his first run for Jimmy Moffatt, he had Vics Canvas, third at Aintree, three and a half lengths adrift in fifth. In the past he hasn't been one to trust implicitly but perhaps the change of scenery has helped work the oracle.

And you just wonder if first-time cheekpieces will help Shotgun Paddy who has some decent efforts in the book (including Warwick's Classic Chase in 2014) but whose jumping frequently causes a problem.

Royale Knight (14/1) is the each-way selection; a number of layers are offering a quarter the odds five places.

On a slightly different tack, the story that has generated most comment from the blog's tenth anniversary post a couple of weeks back is the telephone interview conducted with my mother-in-law after she had backed Mon Mome at 100/1 in the 2009 Grand National.

Here's the abbreviated detail of a further family fiasco following this year's race...

Two minutes after Rule The World had passed the winning post in front our landline rang; caller display indicated it was my brother.

'That's unusual - for a Saturday - to get a call from your brother,' quipped Mrs Tips emerging from the scullery. In an instant my worst fears were confirmed; he'd backed the winner at 50/1.

PG: 'What made you chose that one?'

Bro: 'I met this guy in the bookies and he had bet Boston Bob as his name was Bob so I started to think I need a horse with a Welsh connection.'

PG: 'The old Welsh connection, huh?'

Bro: 'Ydw. Browsing through the runners, when I saw Rule The World I immediately thought of Harry Secombe singing "If I ruled the world".'

Bro continues, singing limpidly in Secombesque fashion into the handset:

'If I ruled the world
Every day would be the first day of spring
Every heart would have a new song to sing
And we'd sing of the joy every morning would bring.'

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry and still don't - where's Thora Hird when you need her? I'm considering burning the form books - offers invited.


TW said...

On the scoring system I use Royale Knight is the horse best suited by the conditions of the race…unfortunately the system also feels he may not be as well handicapped as some but he certainly looks sure to be involved and a place, at least, entirely possible.

In the search for value I’m going to take an interest in Fine Rightly; he looks an improving chaser so I’m hopeful he can overcome the burden of 11-08 and as he is by the same sire as last year’s winner that he can stay the trip and extend his fine sequence of runs at Ayr (won 3, placed 3 out of 7 starts) and get involved at 28/1.

Good luck.

GeeDee said...


IMHO the 'National overspill' has had quite an effect on the make-up of this year's handicap.

The bottom weight is set to carry 10-06 tomorrow but the majority of recent winners have carried less than that...

2015 Wayward Prince 10-01
2014 Al Co 10-00
2012 Merigo 10-02
2011 Beshabar 10-04
2010 Merigo 10-00
2008 Iris De Balme 9-07
2007 Hot Weld 9-09
2006 Run For Paddy 10-02

Good luck!

TW said...

Hi GeeDee,

I think you are absolutely right; the race does have a different make-up this year; I’ve averaged out the last 10-years as follows: -

Average Winning Mark: 133
Average Highest Handicap Mark: 157.9
Average Lowest Handicap Mark: 117.4
Average Handicap Span: 42.3

For the 2016 renewal we have: -

Winning Mark: ???
Highest Handicap Mark: 155
Lowest Handicap Mark: 135
Handicap Span: 20

So only 20lbs between the field on official ratings, less than half the 10-year average of 42.3 and not one horse running from outside the handicap proper. I guess, in theory, this year’s more condensed ratings should make it a much more competitive race so a fair chunk of luck may be required!

GeeDee said...

Rated 146 Vicente (14/1) came home in front in the Scottish National to provide Paul Nicholls with the third leg of a four-timer that takes team Ditcheat £30,000 clear in the race for the trainers' title with one week remaining.

Scottish trained Seeyouatmidnight (14/1) put in a bold bid but some untidy jumps up the home straight saw Sandy Thomson's charge cede second place to Alvarado (25/1).

Held up, Royale Knight (20/1) quietly made his ground and had every chance coming to the penultimate flight; he couldn't go with the principals after the last but finished a creditable fourth, beaten five lengths.