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Ayr hosts one of the National Hunt game’s most prestigious prizes on Saturday as an exceptional group of 24 jumpers set off for the Scottish Grand National.
Hill Sixteen, second in the Becher Chase on Aintree’s iconic spruce fences last December, leads the weight of the race’s oldest horse, Vintage Clouds, and youngest, Kitty’s Light.
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Uncle Paddy is paying a whopping SIX places for the Scottish Grand National, so there’s plenty of value either way if that’s your sort of thing.
We’ve rounded up the best bets from our experts to help you narrow down your selections for Saturday 3.35pm at Ayr.
Matt Chapman: The one that fascinates me is the Irish raider HISTORY OF FASHION, who lacks experience and has a terrible track record, but who could simply complete this distance. History of Fashion are trained by Pat Fahy in Co Carlow and have only been seen Under Rules thirteen times, scoring only once at Down Royal over 3m. He hacked that day. It was Jan. 25, and after he went against Win my Wings in the Eider to overthrow at the sixth fence. History of Fashion last came out in Navan, and it went on well without ever looking like it won in a handicap pursuit. It’s hard to say it was launched on 130, but I suspect this trip could bring a totally different performance. It’s lucky I’ll risk a few pounds each way.
Mick Fitzgerald: Jack Tudor nearly pulled off a miracle at the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown last year when he was severely hampered. Even though his place was improved in the stewards’ investigation, he still did not get the race. Christian Williams must be really pleased with how the KITTY’S LIGHT season is coming at the right time. She was runner-up last time out in a Kempton handicap with stable mate Cap Du Nord and is just 4lbs heavier than in such a good run at Sandown last year. The terrain is perfect for him, he just needs to jump smooth and that can let him down sometimes.
Frank Hickey: STORMY JUDGE is the one and I’m very, very nice. As soon as the Leinster National ended, I said he would win the Irish National – and it’s nowhere near that strong. Hill Sixteen carries the max weight on a 147 mark and you have horses rated in the low 120s racing here. It’s not a very strong renewal.
Stormy Judge raced in two handicaps last season, winning a competitive 2m4f race on heavy ground at Naas on 120 before continuing in a strong novice handicap at Navan on 127. He had Enjoy D’allen, who is among the favorites for the Grand National, back in second and School Boy Hours was 12l back in third, who came out and won the Paddy Power this year. Foxy Jacks was back in sixth and won the Punchestown Festival. He got 12lbs for it, but that seems fair considering what they’ve done for form in the meantime. He could blow them up! He’s in a different league.
form of time: Pat Fahy’s STORMY JUDGE has prepared perfectly for it when a fifth Leinster National eye catcher at Naas and can go two places better than his own brother Mister Fogpatches who ran a cracker to finish third in this contest 12 years ago months for the same connections. The elegant heroine of Eider Win My Wings tops the danger list with her stable mate Kitty’s Light and progressive newbies Major Dundee, Ashtown Lad and Fantastikas all prominently featured as well.
Summary of advice from the Scottish Grand National:
Matt Chapman – Fashion History
Mick Fitzgerald – Kitty’s Light
Frank Hickey – Stormy Judge
Time Form – Stormy Judge
Saturday Race Tips