Expert betting tips for the 2012 Scottish Grand National at Ayr, as Harry the Viking, Merigo and Portrait King all jostle for the favourite tag.
The Scottish National normally has a hard act to follow after the Aintree equivalent, but especially so this year following the breathtaking climax to the Grand National, a race of four and a half miles that was decided only in the final stride. Still, the fact the Scottish National feels like a consolation race is down to the advances of the big one rather than any failing on its own part, and this Saturday’s renewal looks as hotly-contested as ever.
Going by the market, it could be a memorable week for Paul Nicholls, as Harry The Viking (5/1) is favourite to deliver a quick-fire National double for the Champion Trainer-elect. Harry The Viking met with defeat over fences for the first time at Cheltenham, when the well-ridden Teaforthree took his measure, but the way he travelled led to him being the one to take out of the race. He returns to handicaps on a handy mark
and should have no problem with the longer trip.
Second-favourite Portrait King (8/1) is just as progressive over fences, with a couple of wins in marathon events in his last two starts. Victory over Kim Muir fourth Up The Beat at Punchestown was followed by success in the Eider at Newcastle. Normally, running in that race takes it out of a horse, but this year’s renewal was run on less testing ground than usual and Portrait King has sensibly
been given a break since.
Another previous Eider winner is Merigo (7/1), who is much more exposed than the above-mentioned pair but has an excellent course record- aside from winning the race in 2010, he was just touched off by Beshabar last year from a mark effectively 11lb higher than he’ll carry on Saturday.
One with a score to settle against the favourite is Ikorodu Road (10/1). Admittedly, he’s more than made up for a narrow reverse to Harry The Viking at Doncaster in December, winning twice including the Grimthorpe back there in March, where he just held off Junior, who incidentally may well take up this engagement after an early spill at Aintree. Ikorodu Road has every chance of staying this extreme trip, but a career-high mark could prove a tougher obstacle to overcome.
There are a few further down the list worthy of a mention. Lie Forrit would be very well treated on his hurdles form and has been shaping like a real stayer this season. Quentin Collonges has an unexposed profile and is likely to be suited by the extreme test. One I’m interest in is Garleton. He’s been quietly progressing over the last couple of seasons and, as a game front runner, is the type to be suited by a race like this. He’s struggled on a few tries over cialis four miles previously, but his only one since joining his current yard came in testing ground and he certainly races like one who’ll stay all day.
From a handicapping point of view, Harry The Viking and Merigo stand out in this year’s Scottish National. It’s purely a hunch, but I can’t have the latter defying the odds to go close for a third year, so it’s Harry The Viking for me. Those looking for one at longer odds will surely get a run for their money with Garleton and need only pray for him to get the trip this time.