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Monday Musings: Of Missed Opportunity

The portents were not good on Saturday morning for the trip to meet a couple of pals at Ascot for the Shergar Cup, writes Tony Stafford. There are three routes I can take: through town, around the North Circular Road or, if the tank is full, around the northern portion of the M25.

The phone didn’t help, best route through town avoiding accident on the M25. I ignored it – not telling my wife who when in the car insists on my sticking to what it tells even when I know every wrinkle between here, Ascot and pretty much every other course in the south-east.

So I set off down the A12 past the Olympic Velodrome and on to Redbridge roundabout, a name which more often than not reminds me that Jessie J, the singer, started out in that borough as Jessica Cornish. Honestly, it does!

This Saturday, the signs told us, but not until we were almost on the big roundabout that joins the North Circular and M11 (leads to M25), that road works were starting that morning and lasting for more than two weeks. Cheers, that and accidents. Without the wrinkles I’d never get there in time for the early start.

With the local knowledge, past the new development of the former Denham Film Studios – must look at a show flat if I’ve the time one day – I just about made it. As soon as I arrived, it was obvious that Shergar Cup day still draws in the crowds. Just as evident was how many young people were there. Possibly most were attracted by the post-racing concert with its trio of attractions (more later) but as the first of the six contests with horses running in four team colours and in distinguishing caps got under way the excitement was palpable. You can talk about the potential ills of gambling but when people not accustomed to being in a betting environment have the chance to have a wager on a live horse race with all the motion and colours, and maybe collect, a switch seems to be turned on.

For me, though, there was one great wrong. John Gosden has been mopping up the Group 1 races for fun this summer, almost without exception with Frankie Dettori’s rekindled genius assisting. The winners would not have garnered anything like the publicity for the trainer and their owners without the Italian’s part in events.

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How then, bearing in mind the trainer’s obvious love of publicity, did he not manage to understand what a difference it would have made to the Shergar Cup if in this year of all years Dettori was allowed off games at Haydock or wherever to bolster this always-quirky day on the greatest of all UK stages?

Frankie is the uncrowned King of Ascot, from the seven in a day more than 20 years ago to the four-timer that had the bookies panic-stricken at the Royal meeting in June, to Enable’s consecutive epic King Georges.

But Gosden had much more important matters in his mind. On Saturday morning Dettori was booked for a single mount at Haydock, where the ground was already very testing. He was to ride Cambridgeshire winner Wissahickon in the Group 3 Rose of Lancaster Stakes, a decent race but one hardly of earth-shattering importance.

Wissahickon was a 5-1 morning-price second favourite behind even-money Addeybb, a mudlark who duly won comfortably for William Haggas. What happened to Wissahickon? Nothing. He was taken out because of unsuitable ground – hardly a shock that it was going to be unsuitable.

Instead, Frankie turned up at Chelmsford City, again for a single ride on the Gosden-trained Lady Lawyer, a 90-rated, thrice-raced and dual previous winner who collected £30k for getting home first in a 0-105 handicap, presumably to the joy of the throng at what Derek Thompson always describes as “Essex’s Premier Racecourse”. Hope he was there doing his routine day-long broadcast for the fans. He undoubtedly will have got a few words out of the great jockey.

But what a publicity opportunity wasted. The cheering crowds back at Ascot who celebrated Hayley Turner’s second successive Silver Saddle triumph by coming out top on points among the 12 riders in four teams, would have been ecstatic at seeing the elusive Mr D.

He won’t be around for much longer and John Gosden should have been instrumental in letting him off for the day. He’s happy to use Rab Havlin, Nicky Mackay and Kieran O’Neill on top-class horses on many occasions. What was so different this weekend? Certainly in terms of top-class racing, there was nothing to stand in the way, save Big Johnny G.

The Ascot fans were happy enough even in the wind and the occasional sudden squalls of drenching rain which caused gaggles of dressed-for-summer young ladies dashing for cover. As ever they were accoutred for Royal Ascot, mostly minus hats of course, the track perennially magnetic thanks to its reputation for style and class.

After Saturday, though, I fear there will be more than a few of that particular gathering that will have gone home less than satisfied at the return of 50% of their admittance fee because the windy weather caused the abandonment of the concert. Coincidentally, top billing among three featured stars was none other than Jessie J, latterly a judge on one of the best-known talent shows on television and a big recording star in her own right.

Apparently the setting up of the stage at the site of the Old Paddock, now a verdant open space and wide open to the elements once the temporary extra Royal meeting stands are taken away, was much too dangerous to be used.

In earlier years I recall that the stage had been nearer the bandstand, scene of the post-racing “Hits from the First World War” sing-along that always has its share of enthusiastic and youthful devotees, often belting out the wrong words, not that it matters. Had the concert been based there, it might have been less exposed, but it certainly was windy on Saturday!

If the concert had gone ahead I might have stopped by to try to have a word with Ms J to tell her that if she planned to visit her family over the next couple of weeks to use the Central Line. Every rush hour, morning and night, that junction is a nightmare. I’ll have to tie a knot in a handkerchief – who uses handkerchiefs these days? Not me! I’ll need to because, true to form, my mental automatic pilot kicked in and at 6 p.m. there I was at the same spot, swearing at the delay!

Monday evening will be a rare occurrence for the Raymond Tooth team with TWO runners – unfortunately in the same race at Wolverhampton. Say Nothing and Waterproof are in a field of 11. What can I tell you? Not a lot.

Stat of the Day, 3rd January 2015

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day, 3rd January 2015

We got off the mark for 2015 at the second time of asking yesterday with a fine 6/1 win from Teddy Tee, who relished both a huge step up in trip and his handicap debut to score by over four lengths at an SP of 7/2, meaning we got 171% of that and that kind of price is the key to long term profits.

Brian Harding rode him brilliantly biding his time to ease into the lead with the only worrying moments coming in the run up and away from the final flight, where he looked very green and darted about quite a bit. Yet, he stayed the trip, finished strongly and will no doubt come on for the experience.

Hopefully some of you took heed of me flagging up the Harding/Richards alliance, as trainer Nicky Richards' four horses at Ayr yesterday all won and were all ridden by Brian Harding in a 4-timer that paid 83/1 at SP and a whopping 260/1 at the 10.00am prices.

I backed all four as singles, but I certainly didn't do the 4-timer, perhaps one of you did!

Back to the all-weather today, as some of the jumps cards look very tricky indeed and our selected race is the...

3.45 Lingfield:

A lowly Class 6, 4yo+ handicap sprint over 6 furlongs, where I'm going to be backing Mark Usher's Black Truffle at 7/2 BOG.

Mark's runners are in terrific form...

And he'll be hoping to kick 2015 off in the same way he finished 2014. His horses have won 5 of their 11 races in the last three weeks and his last day at the track was New Year's Eve when his runners won both of their outings.

He has a decent enough record here too...

In the last three years, his handicappers have won 14 of 101 races (13.9% SR) here at Lingfield, generating level stakes profits of 45.8pts at an ROI of 45.3% with those priced up at 3/1 to 12/1 winning 13 of 68 (19.1% SR) for 61pts (+89.8% ROI).

The horse is by Kyllachy...

...whose offspring have a better than average record here on the A/W at Lingfield over the shorter distance handicaps and since 2009, those running over 5 to 7 furlongs have won 27 times from 228 attempts (11.8% SR) and have produced levels takes profits of 31.7pts (+13.9% ROI). If we exclude the runners at each extreme of the odds market, we are left with a record of 25/174 (14/4% SR) for 80.4pts (+46.2% ROI) at odds of 9/4 to 16/1.

And he was only beaten by just over 1.5 lengths LTO, a week ago...

And over the last five years, Mark Usher's runners are 13/50 (26% SR) when sent off at odds of 6/4 to 7/1 within 11 days of a race which they either won or finished within 2 lengths of the winner. These runners have generated 16.7pts profits to date at an ROI of 33.4% and Mark is just one of a number of trainers in my "11-day returners" micro system.

Hayley Turner takes the ride today...

And she's no slouch here at Lingfield either. Firstly, some data you might already know and then (hopefully!) some you won't!

I'll start off by telling you that over the last four years, Hayley has ridden the winner in 37 of her 257 Lingfield handicap contests, a strike rate of 14.4% resulting in level stakes profits of 44.4pts (+17.3% ROI) and on horses priced from evens up to 7/1, she is 31/116 (26.7% SR) for 52.7pts (+45.4% ROI).

What you might not know is that she has a particularly good record when riding horses at the top end of the market over the shorter distances. In the last four years, on handicappers here at Lingfield in the top three in the betting and priced between 15/8 and 7/1, her record is 18/57 (31.6% SR) for 37.8pts (+66.3% ROI).

Black Truffle has already won twice here at Lingfield over 7f and has scored a couple of wins elsewhere over today's 6f trip. It has been widely reported that the horse struggled to overcome the effects of a gelding operation for some time, but has run into some decent form of late.

He ran on well to win at Kempton over today's trip two starts ago and was very unlucky in running last time out. he was very badly hampered at Wolverhampton inside the final furlong as the two horses ahead of him veered left and this possibly cost him the chance of a follow-up win, as he only lost by a length and a half, having had to get going again.

There's plenty above to suggest he'll give another good account of himself here and hopefully we'll be celebrating later after we've placed a 1pt win bet on Black Truffle at 7/2 BOG with Bet365. You can get the same price from Paddy Power & Hills, so you can take your pick, when you...

...click here for the latest betting on the 3.45 Lingfield

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REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard.

Stat of the Day, 19th December 2013

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day, 19th December 2013

Halfsin made a gutsy effort to control the race from the front on Wednesday evening, but finally relinquished the lead with a couple of furlongs to go and the receded through the field, I'm afraid.

The end result was that it was a 10th place (of 12) finish the best part of 16 lengths behind the eventual winner I'm Fraam Govan, who was suggested by one of our readers (Jack Benton) as a likely winner.

More all-weather action for today's selection, as we tackle the...

1.30 Southwell:

I've already mentioned that there are a few profitable microsystems involving USA bred horses at Southwell. Some specify the age of the horse, some specify the distance of the race or the sex of the horse etc etc.

This one is really simple and is profitable at all odds!

Quite simply, back ALL horses with the USA suffix at Southwell provided they haven't already raced here more than twice. Once they race here more often, the market catches on and the value is eroded from the bet.

Every since 2003, this has been profitable at all odds and it's a massive sample size: 311 winners from 1814 races = a 17.14% strike rate and level stakes profits of 664.93pts, a return above stakes of some 36.7%. Not bad at all for a "bet and forget" service.

We can, of course, filter it down to suit, but the only filters I would check personally with something like this would be recent form, odds of selection (in case a few big winners are skewing the figures) and whether or not it was a handicap race.

You could also check the class of race, I suppose. Today's race is a Class 6 handicap by the way!

So, here goes:
2010 to 2013: 126/555 = 22.7% SR for +328.86pts : ROI of 59.25%
Max odds 6/1: 200/703 = 28.45% SR for +115.24pts : ROI of 16.39%
Class 6 races: 121/661 = 18.31% SR for 443.22pts : ROI of 67.05%
Handicap races: 190/1089 = 17.45% for 491.13pts  : ROI of 45.01%

All of which brings us to today's conditions, a Class 6 handicap with a horse priced at 6/1 or under and the figures since 2010 are 46 winners from 148 races (31.08% SR) producing level stakes profits of 51.44pts, or 34.76% of stakes.

The only horse fitting the criteria today is Yasir, who come here attempting to score back to back victories after winning here six days ago. He somewhat ground out a narrow neck victory over a fellow USA horse last time out, but shaped as though he wanted to go further than the mile and a half on offer. Not only that, it should be noted that the third placed horse was a further six lengths back and the runner-up had never run as good a race.

Yasir is up in trip today and has a 6lb penalty to contend with, but I still feel he's running at a mark (69 today) way below his capabilities. He has, in the past, won off 79, so there's still some room for manoeuvre if he's at the top of his game.

Hayley Turner was on board this horse for the first time last time out and she's back in the saddle today and she'll no doubt be keen to double her tally on this one. She's been riding really well since her comeback and I think she's a great chance here.

The positives around winning last time out are tempered by the weight penalty and the step up in trip, which means we're looking to get a similar price about this one to the odds he was sent off at last time out and to this end, I've placed a 1pt win bet on Yasir at 11/4 BOG with Bet365. A couple of other firms are at the same price, so it could prove beneficial to...

Click here for the latest betting on the 1.30 Southwell

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day,
just click here for more details.

Here is today's racecard!

Stat of the Day, 30th April 2013

Stat of the Day : 30th April

Stat of the Day : 30th April

Stat of the Day, 30th April 2013

A poor run from Thunder Sheik yesterday, as he was eventually pulled up before the penultimate fence. He'd started well enough and led in the opening stages of the contest, but soon slipped back through the field before having his run curtailed prematurely. The market had it spot on as he drifted from our advised 7/2 out to an SP of 11/2.

We're back on the flat today and we're off to the Norfolk seaside for a 7-runner, Class 4 handicap over a mile. The going is expected to be good to firm for the...

3.10 Yarmouth:

Stat of the Day exists because racing has a habit of repeating itself year after year and today's stat is no exception. Today is the last day of April: a notoriously difficult time of year to find winners, both as a punter and also as a "racing connection" ie it's tough for trainers and jockeys too.

April however represents a very good time of year for the jockey / trainer partnership of Hayley Turner and Michael Bell, who have an impressive record when teaming up together.

Since the start of April 2010, Ms Turner has ridden for Mr Bell some 47 times in the month of April, winning a dozen of those races (25.5% of the time) and producing level stakes profits of 40.25pts = an ROI of some 85.6%.

These figures are impressive enough, but if we consider just handicap contests like today's race, that record is improved upon to 8 wins from 22 (36.4%) for 46.5pts (+211.4%) profit, quite astounding. This isn't skewed by one freakish month: in years 2010, 2011 and so far this year the strike rate has been 33% in each of those years, whilst 2012 saw a 43% winning ratio, so it's a consistent stat at least.

There's just one horse that fits the criteria today: George Cinq, who makes only his fourth start today. He was 6th on debut in a Newmarket maiden, before breaking his duck on the A/W track at Kempton over 7f in his second contest. He continued his progression when stepping up top Class 2 company last time out for his final Nursery outing also over 7f at Kempton. He encountered plenty of trouble in running that day, but stayed on really well in the closing stages to chase home the highly regarded Godolphin horse Tamarkuz.

Any repeat of that type of form and/or a continuance of his progress shown last term should be enough to take this contest today and I'd expect this one to be quite popular today and he'll probably end up in the 9/4 to 5/2 region. I'd have thought.

Therefore, I was quite pleased to get a 1pt bet on George Cinq at 3/1 BOG with BetVictor, but as we know prices do fluctuate, so please...

Click here for the latest betting on the 3.10 Yarmouth.

PS Sunningdale Rose will also be ridden by Hayley Turner for Michael Bell in the 2.10 race, but that's not a handicap event.

Stat of the Day, 4th September 2012

Stat of the Day 4/9

Stat of the Day 4/9

Stat of the Day, 4th September 2012

The very aptly named Looks Like Rain was a comfortable winner in the end yesterday. As predicted, our selection made full use of the extra 100yds or so and stayed on strongly to win with plenty left (in my opinion, of course!) We took the 9/2 on offer early, which was good advice as the Sp was 11/4. It was also interesting to note that the other Ellison/de Sousa mount won too!  Our follow-up attempt only takes us about 45 miles East of last evening's success, as we look at a Class 4 handicap over 7 furlongs. Our choice currently has 13 to beat on good to firm ground in the...

2.30 Leicester

Marcus Tregoning has sent very few horses to Leicester in recent times: just six in the last two years to be precise. But when you see that those six horses have returned 3 winners and 3 places, our attention is grabbed immediately when he sends the horse-box to Leicester. His record over the last 2 years here actually reads 311312.

Marcus is represented by two runners here today: Gilded Frame runs in the 3.05 (currently 7/2 favourite) and stands a good chance if running to the best of his ability and breeding. His previous 2 efforts have been a little disappointing, but his task looks easier today. However, I think our best chance lies in the preceding race with Konstantin.

Konstantin won three handicaps over this trip in 2011, but was slow to get back into form this year. However, he battled to a narrow victory at this same level at Folkestone last time out and a similar effort should be enough to take this one. He also has a Course & Distance win under his belt from his only appearance at this track. He was partnered by Hayley Turner that day and she takes the ride again today: she also rides Gilded Frame in the 3.05.

Konstantin is currently best priced at 13/2 with betVictor and at that price, I'll take the safer E/W option, but as always, I recommend that you...

Click here for the latest odds for the 2.30 Leicester.

Monday Mish Mash 20th August 2012

Reckless Abandon wins again

Reckless Abandon wins again

It was a terrific weekend for British racing, albeit not in Britain; and it promises to be a terrific week for British racing here on home shores too.

Also today, I've the opening position from this year's Geegeez Fantasy Football League, and a word on what I was up to at the weekend...

Let's start with the racing action just passed, and wonderful performances from old friends and new, women and children first.

The child in this context is Clive Cox's unbeaten juvenile, Reckless Abandon, who did us a turn at Ascot when winning the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes and has since added two fat Gallic pots to his treasure chest, in the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin and, last weekend, the Group 1 Prix Morny. He's a funny bugger is Reckless Abandon.

You may recall him winning at Ascot (and indeed on debut at Doncaster) despite jinking late and in pronounced manner. Well, he did that again at Maison-Lafitte when winning the Papin but, in his stiffest test thus far, he ran straight down the rail to his left and led from trap to line. In behind were a couple of O'Brien beasts, and the Hannon hoss he'd seen off in the Papin (Sir Prancealot), who was beaten about the same again.

Given that Reckless led from the start, and placed horses all came from off the pace, it's difficult to get a robust handle on the merit of the form. What isn't in question is that a) the winner is very good and progressive; b) the second may have more scope for improvement, especially - with an eye to the Guineas - at a mile; and, c) the French, whose first home was only sixth behind British and Irish runners, may not have too much depth in their juvenile rank this term.

When a horse shows as much natural speed as Reckless Abandon does, it's quite difficult to see him lasting out a mile, even next year. He's bred for seven furlongs most likely, but I'd be tempted to have a dig at one of  the late season all age sprints - perhaps the Abbaye itself, over a flying five - as he's clearly very fast and would get a ton of weight (ok, not a ton, but the best part of a stone).

Cox had a good'un a couple of years ago in Xtension (sold to race in Hong Kong and subsequently worth a million in prizes, to quote Iggy Pop) and, whilst that one had a bit more stamina, this one could achieve more on this isle than Xtension's domestic PB of third in the Dewhurst and fourth in the 2000 Guineas.

[Incidentally, Cox is a stable in cracking form just now, as evidenced not only by Reckless Abandon's win, but also by that of 25/1 team mate, Lethal Force in the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes at Newbury].

Onwards, to a superb race mare now in her fourth season of racing. Snow Fairy is the timeless chick, and she came back as hot as ever in the Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet, where she saw off Izzi Top et al by three-quarters of a length and more. It was a decent enough renewal with Galikova (won last year's Group 1 Prix Vermeille) and Giofra (winner of the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes last time) in behind.

Snow Fairy, who has now won six Group 1 races, three of them in Asia at the end of the year, will surely be heading to the Orient once more, and those juicy prizes. She's amassed pushing four million in prize money, and will topple that landmark four million figure if she stays fit.

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She's a real flag bearer for Ed Dunlop who, alongside Sir Henry, is developing a reputation as one of the best trainers of fillies and mares in the world. (Think Ouija Board, Lailani, and all the way back to Ta Rib in the 1996 French 1000 Guineas).

Concluding the 'women and children first' section, and jumping back to Saturday night UK time, Arlington's Beverley D Stakes, a Grade 1 for fillies and mares, was won by David Simcock's I'm A Dreamer, ridden by Hayley Turner. While there's little doubt she got the run of the race, she does have form in North America, after a silver medal last term in the EP Taylor, a Grade 1 in Woodbine, Canada.

The winner of this race gets an entry to the Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Turf, and that's a logical place for I'm A Dreamer to target. On the same Arlington card was the American St Leger, won by Marco Botti's Italian 'hand-me-down', Jakkalberry. I backed this horse last time at Ascot in the Hardwicke, in which I thought he was nailed on for a place, but he only finished fifth behind Sea Moon there.

This day, he fair bolted up, beating the best of the US squad by more than two lengths, with more than another six back the third placed horse, Johnny G's Zuider Zee. Whilst a tilt at the BC Marathon would appear to offer a penalty kick scenario, connections are plotting a more precarious course to Antipodean waters, and the Melbourne Cup, run in the same week as the Breeders Cup.

Adding a third European victory on the night in Arlington, and a second Grade 1 (the American St Leger is an ungraded conditions race currently), was Alain de Royer-Dupre's Bayrir, who bagged the Secretariat Stakes. Bayrir was having only his fifth career start, all of them as a three year old, and the obviously progressive son of Medicean is now working towards a crack at the Breeders Cup Turf, probably via a break and a prep run on Arc weekend.

Although Bayrir may not be bred for a true run mile and a half, the BC Turf is very rarely truly run (due to tight turns making it difficult to attain and maintain peak speed, and also the lack of true twelve furlong horses in US), so he's every chance of stalking and pouncing there.

And, rounding out the British interest in the global racing at the weekend, 'Filthy' Luca Cumani just failed to make it a Grade 1 clean sweep for Europe at Arlington Park, when his Afsare went down narrowly in the Arlington Million.

Basically, the race was stolen from the front by the lone pace, Little Mike, who got out, was unhassled and stayed out. Afsare finished best, and perhaps if Fallon had made more use of him he might have won. But this was still a decent effort in difficult race conditions.

********

This week is all about York and, after something of a summer holiday for top class turf action in UK, the Ebor meeting brings it back with a bang.

Four days of tip top racing kick off with Wednesday's Juddmonte International, and a certain wonder beast. Yes, Frankel will finally step up to ten furlongs here at the thirteenth time of asking.

Given the way he finishes his races; and his level of talent and improved temperament; and the fact that he's a son of crack middle distance horse, Galileo; in my view, he's an absolute shoo in to be at least almost as good at ten as eight furlongs. And, whilst you would have to have a lot of sevens to be piling in to buy some ones (Frankel is a best priced 1/7 currently), 14% tax free has its attraction when sat next to bank interest rates for savers...

I'll be offering thoughts on the racing throughout the week, starting with a piece tomorrow on what to look out for at the track, in terms of course constitution, draw, trainers and so on; and then it's previews, tips and trends for the rest of the week. So do stay tuned for that!

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Now then, there's a fair chance it didn't escape your attention that this weekend saw the start of the Premier League football season. Naturally enough, therefore, it also saw the commencement of our very own Fantasy Football League.

And I'm pleased to report we had a new record number of entries, as 248 of us will battle it out for kudos aplenty and prizes a few. 🙂

Nothing to report in terms of progress at this stage, as it truly is a marathon not a sprint, but keep your dial at geegeez fm for occasional updates on the movers and shakers.

********

 And finally, how was your weekend? What did you get up to? Enjoying the sunshine? Taking in some sport?

Me? I was in a very hot classroom for two days of ante natal training. This baby thing was blissfully ethereal, distant even, despite the impending due date, until the weekend past.

Now, I know in graphic detail the extremes that poor Mrs Matt will endure to ensure the legacy of Geegeez is well taken care of! Actually, as well as being mildly terrifying, it was interesting and I certainly learned a heck of a lot. Being able to recall important factoids in the heat of the moment is, of course, another matter entirely.

For now, then, I'll bury my head back in the sand - or the form book at least - as I get to grips with York's fiendish punting puzzles. (Plenty) more as the week rolls on.

Matt

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Aidan Just 3 from 36 With His 3-year-olds at HQ

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Paul Nicholls Eyes More National Glory

Can Paul Nicholls follow-up last week's Aintree Grand National win with a victory in the Scottish version on Saturday? Read more