Scottish Grand National 2011 Preview

Merigo wins the Scottish Grand National

Merigo wins the Scottish Grand National

The Scottish Grand National was a good race for Geegeez readers last year, as I confidently selected Merigo from a shortlist of three at 25/1. Merigo won easily, making me and lots of readers a bit happier and a bit wealthier in the process.

Repeating the dose is always a tricky old proposition, but at least we have some decent patterns against which to whittle the field. With only one winner starting shorter than 12/1 in the last decade, it could prove most rewarding... if we can find the right one.

We'll start by ignoring anything that ran at Aintree last week and anything that is trained in Ireland. Given that the latter statement excludes the progressive guaranteed stayer - and likely race favourite - Chicago Grey, you may think that's careless.

However, the last favourite to win the Scottish National was Paris Pike in 2000, and the last Irish-trained winner was... I'm not exactly sure, but it looks like more than thirty years ago. There is a slight niggle in my mind that Chicago Grey is trained by an emergent genius training talent in the form of 33-year-old Gordon Elliott, but Cheltenham runners tend not to win this. On balance, I might save on Chicago Grey, but there are too many historical negatives to make him a play.

Eight to ten year olds have won all but two of the last fourteen runnings of the Scottish Grand National, so I'm happy enough to focus on that age group, excluding almost half of the thirty declared runners. Those rejected by the age stat include Ruby Walsh's mount, The Minack, previous winner Iris de Balme, and the silver medallist from the last two Scottish Nationals, Gone To Lunch.

All of the last eleven winners completed last time out, and finished in the first six in doing so. That counts against Merigo, who was only eighth last time and, despite his excellent record at Ayr - besides the win in this race last year, he has two wins, a second and a third from his four other visits - I'm drawing a line through him.

Also departing at this point are three of the top four in the weights, Neptune Collonges, Blazing Bailey, and Ouzbeck; as well as Gansey and No Panic.

We're now left with a shortish list of ten, and I'll strike out Bellflower Boy, who ran yesterday and must surely now be too knackered to win here! So nine remain.

Merigo was the ninth of the last eleven horses to be officially rated between 125 and 145, when winning off 127 in the 2010 Scottish Grand National. A straight interpretation of that range expels Cold Mountain (just, rated 124), and Beshabar (just, rated 146), as well as Bellflower Boy (121) again and Chicago Grey (151) again.

It seems punitive and even somewhat arbitrary to remove those two on the basis of a pound either way, so if I can't find another reason why they can be ignored, I will reinstate them.

Jumping is a core attribute, as it is with all Nationals, simply because there are so many bloody fences! Specifically, only one of the last eleven winners of the races had either fallen or unseated rider more than once in their previous careers.

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Minella Four Star has fallen three times, and Heez A Steel has come down twice, as have Neptune Equester and Cold Mountain. Those four are passed over, leaving a quintet on the shortlist, as follows:

Beshabar, Fair Along, Always Right, Poker De Sivola, and Regal Heights.

Ten of the last eleven winners were three mile-plus winners, and Joes Edge, the exception was second over 3m1f, so stamina is obviously a must for this four mile contest. All of our five have demonstrated the required level of staying power, so that doesn't help, but all recent winners had run between three and six times that season. Poker De Sivola may not quite be at concert pitch after just two seasonal runs, one of them in a 'beach' bumper at Southwell during the cold snap.

That leaves four, in fact three as Fair Along is a non-runner, and if you don't want to dutch the trio (i.e. back them all), then my final thoughts on each are below:

Beshabar (7/1) - second to Chicago Grey in the Cheltenham four miler on only his fourth start over fences. Less experienced than any recent winner. Wins on flat tracks at Ascot and Doncaster give him a chance here, but 7/1 in a field of 30 is hardly mouth-watering value.

Always Right (9/1) - another lightly raced contender, he's had seven chase outings and won four of them (was 2nd on another run). Did fall here in a hunter chase back in 2009, and just might not be so good in this bigger field (only poor run was when 11th in the Foxhunters at Cheltenham).

Regal Heights (33/1) - flat track specialist with all eight wins coming on level playing fields. He's exposed, but is in form, goes on most ground (might ideally like it a tad softer), and has won here in the past albeit over hurdles.

If my hand was forced, I'd probably go with Regal Heights who has plenty of value each way (find a bookie who is paying first five).

Finally, a couple of trends busters might be last season's silver and bronze medalists, Gone To Lunch (25/1, in the frame last two years) and No Panic (loves fast ground and flat tracks and races up with the pace). The 66/1 about No Panic from the in-form Peter Bowen yard will find its way onto one of my slips as well. 🙂


Before I close today, thank you very much for all the great feedback on the video I published for you yesterday. You told me it was like a breath of fresh air to listen to something honest and cutting through the bull **** on the subject of online business. That's very gratifying and of course exactly how I was trying to project the opportunity.

As the weekend now draws in, do take a look at that video and then register for the free training, so that you can follow along through the subsequent tutorials. If you can spare half an hour this weekend, and the same next weekend, you'll have your website up and running. If you've ever wanted to do that, then I promise you this is the easiest to follow step-by-step tuition you'll get... though I say so myself 😉

Watch the video and register for the free training stuff here.

In any case, have a great weekend, good luck in the Scottish Grand National tomorrow and with all your weekend wagers, and I'll chat to you soon.


p.s. I'm away in France for a couple of days from Sunday to Tuesday, so please bear with me if I'm a little tardy in replying to any questions / comments you might have.

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8 replies
  1. Fred Ives says:

    Hi Matt, good analysis, My personal choice is a form horse, the same kind of form as Ballybriggs had, that is,( A NINE YEAR OLD ) ” ALWAYS RIGHT “, E.W. ON BETFAIR. IF THE PRICE ALLOWS, OR IF YOU WANT TO BE UNTRA SAFE, PLACE ONLY ON BETFAIR.

  2. Man says:

    Well I think there will be a trend buster today and thats Chicago Grey. As long as Paul Carberry keeps him in midfield rather than at the back. Ayr is not Cheltenham.

  3. Duncan says:

    Hi Matt
    Another sound review, almost had me changing my mind.
    I will be having two small ew wagers on the race, both are 9 year olds: Blazing Bailey (25/1)who didn’t run that well at Cheltenham but made some late headway and should be suited by the distance. My other selection is Ouzbeck(16/1), who will have no trouble with the ground or distance and was given a hurdle sharpner at Bangor three weeks ago and should be spot on. Having said all this the favourite must have a very good chance.

    • noel says:

      cold mountain 4.2m winner 3 weeks ago in cls3,now 1 st 9lb lighter,has to come into ratings.

      • Duncan says:

        Hi Noel
        This will prove much more difficult for Cold Mountain than the race he won at Taunton and although he will obviously stay the distance well enough, personally I don’t give him much of a chance, but, he may sneak a place, good luck anyway.

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