With the 2019 Aintree Grand National in the books – won by pre-race favourite Tiger Roll – we turn our attentions to an exciting few days of action north of the border as Ayr racecourse stage their ever-popular Scottish National meeting. Here are our top Scottish National betting tips and predictions.
This year’s highlight takes place on Saturday 13 April at 3.35pm. The early going is expected to be good, good to soft in places and that makes for near-perfect racing conditions. The card brings us the renewal of Scotland’s premier horse race, but it also sets out seven other races which act as support acts, the schedule including the Scottish Handicap Hurdle and Champion Novices Chase.
Bookmakers, predicting an increasing level of interest from casual punters, especially north of the border, have laid out a feast of betting opportunities and you can tuck into betting on each of the eight races, having your say on race winner, each-way, without the favourite, exciting multiples like Lucky 15 and Yankee, Tote betting, such as Placepot and Jackpot. There are more ways to bet than ever before and, if playing wisely, that means there are more ways to win.
Who should you trust with your hard-earned cash and which races are worth a financial interest? Punters adopt a variety of approaches when betting on the Scottish National, ranging from the tried and trusted to weird and wonderful. Pick through the form, figures and trends to make a well-informed pick, or simply go with a runner carrying a familiar-sounding name, or even stick a pin in the race-card and go with a pick at random.
In an attempt at helping you beat the bookies, our team worth through the Scottish National trends, looking for any hints or clues that could lead you to this year’s champion.
The Scottish National has a history that can be traced back to 1858 when it was called the West of Scotland Grand National, run at a course in Renfrewshire, with runners having to go over 32 stone-wall jumps. Thankfully times changed and the modern version of the race we know and love today moved to Ayr in 1966. The distance was increased to its present length with the prize money set at little over £5000.
The battle to be most successful horse in this race is currently a three-way tie between Couvrefeu on three, achieved between 1911 and 1913, Southern Hero 1934 and 1939 and Queens Taste 1953 and 1956. It should be some time before we see a horse smash through the three titles.
The leading jockey of all time is Charlie Cunningham who won on Bellman in 1881, Wild Meadow 1885, Orcadian 1887 and Deloraine 1889. Not exactly recent form that gives us anything to look for this year, so we move on.
The leading trainer at Ayr Racecourse is Ken Oliver who helped The Spaniard to success in 1970, followed by Young Ash Leaf 1971, Fighting Fit 1979 and Cockle Strand 1982. Again, we are going back too far to get anything concrete from that, so let’s take a look at more recent runnings of the Scottish National and see what comes us.
In the last few years, we have had a range of ages but it’s worth noting that four of the last nine champions have been nine years old at the time of scoring. The horses in question were Merigo in 2010, Bashabar 2011, Al Co 2014 and last year’s victor Joe Farrell. The other winners in that time period were two seven-year-olds, two 11-year-olds and an eight-year-old.
Looking at horses between seven and nine appears to be your best bet and is the first point of note in our trends. Antepost favourite Big River, trained by Lucinda Russell, is a nine-year-old who has already won at Ayr in the past and can be backed at 9/1 with 888sport but is as short as 7/1 in places, so be careful who you trust.
The trainer the stats say you should keep on the right side of is Paul Nicholls as he has won this race in two of the last three years. Impressive stuff, but the shine is taken off that slightly when realising it was the same horse on both occasions, Vicente. This famous runner fancied a hat-trick, landing three-in-a-row, but it wasn’t to be.
Nicholls has three titles in total, the third coming from Belmont King back in 1997, ridden by Tony McCoy. Nicholls did no better than 16th in the Grand National last week, Warriors Tale coming home at 66/1. At the time of writing, he only has one runner entered in this year’s race and that’s Ibis Du Rheu. Hello Bud won the Scottish National a decade ago, ridden by Paddy Brennan for Nigel Twiston-Davies.
This is another effected by the form of Vicente as we see Sam Twiston-Davies has won two of the last three, on the same horse. He’s a talented rider, no doubt, and is sure to have his pick of the best horses this year, but we must be mindful of just how good Vicente was in winning the two.
Having said that, the pair struck a fantastic partnership and Sam got the best out of his horse in the latter stages. Sam is set to ride Cogry for Nigel Twiston-Davies this year. An each-way option?
The ante-post betting for the Scottish National was dominated by Big River who could be backed at 9/1 when taking advantage of 888Sport’s generosity. Beware The Bear is expected to be the main danger and has been chalked up biggest by Bet365 who serve a tasty looking 9/1.
Vintage Clouds is the first of the double-figure odds, 10/1 at 888Sport and then there’s Dingo Dollar at the same price with the same firm and Crosshue Boy, available at 12/1 when doing your betting at 888sport. UK race fans can watch the action live on ITV and each-way players will get 1/4 the odds a place 1-2-3-4.