I was originally planning to target the Spring Cup at Newbury this afternoon, but the weather has claimed that meeting and instead we are heading to Ayr for the Scottish Grand National.
As it happens, that may yet turn out to be a good thing, as not only do I feel this race is a ripe for a shock result on ground that is softer than usual at this time of year, but I think I have uncovered a great bet that has been relatively overlooked in the betting.
2016 Scottish Grand National Trends
I’ve used HorseRaceBase to analyse the last 19 renewals of the Scottish Grand National and have identified the following stats to help us narrow down the field.
- 19/19 were aged 7-11
- 16/19 were aged 7-10
- 13/19 were aged 7-9
- 17/19 ran in a Class 2 or Class 3 LTO
- 16/19 had contested a Graded Chase
- 16/19 had won a Class 2+ Chase
- Horses that were stepping up 2-3 classes are 17-46-230
- Horses that ran in a Class 1 LTO are 2-24-184
- 17/19 had won over 3m+
- Horses who had won over 4m+ are 5-18-57
- Horses who ran over less than 3m LTO are 1-4-48
- 17/19 ran within the past 60 days
- Horses that did not are 2-4-39
- Horses wearing headgear are 1-12-118
- 17/19 ran in a handicap LTO
- Horses that ran at Cheltenham LTO are 3-19-99
- Horses that ran at Aintree LTO are 2-7-95
- 17/19 sent off at an SP of 13/2 or bigger
- 13/19 sent off at an SP of 13/2 — 20/1
- Favourites are 2-6-25
- 17/19 were officially rated 132-150
- 14/19 were officially rated 132-143
- Horses rated 151+ are 0-5-21
- 18/19 finished in the top 6 LTO
- 13/19 finished in the top 3 LTO
- Horses that did not finish LTO are 0-114
- 16/19 had raced 3-6 times that season
- Horses with 2 or less runs that season are 1-40
- Horses with 7 or more runs that season are 2-109
- 16/19 carried 11-3 or less
- Horses that carried 11-10 or more are 3-7-23
- 16/19 had won 4+ Chases
If you enjoy the challenge of finding your own bets, my research should enable you to apply the trends to this year’s field to arrive at a shortlist of live contenders.
2016 Scottish Grand National Analysis
Good recent form is essential in this end of season marathon, with 18 of the last 19 winners having finished in the top 6 on their most recent start, and those who failed to complete last time out are 0-114. So, let’s start by ruling out Shotgun Paddy, Emperor’s Choice and Golden Chieftain.
Just like the English equivalent, this is a race in which horses wearing headgear have a very poor record. In fact, they are just 1-118, which is bad news for almost half of this field, including top weight Cause Of Causes and the well-fancied Highland Lodge, who hasn’t been seen since he won the Becher.
Interestingly, horses who contested a class 1 chase last time out haven’t fared too well. They have a record of 2-24-184 and, although this group has accounted for plenty of placed horses, there is no arguing with the fact that they clearly represent very poor value. Applying this statistic means we can also wave goodbye to RSA Chase also-rans Seeyouatmidnight and Vyta Du Roc, as well as Measureofmydreams, Vicente and Gold Futures.
If we also draw a line through last year’s Grand National fourth, Alvarado, who has had only the one start this season, we’re left with a much more manageable shortlist of eight.
This includes favourite Heathfield, who looks a bit too obvious for my liking, and I have my doubts about him. For starters, he ran over hurdles last time, which I always regard as a negative in staying chases, and he also ran over less than 3m. Horses with this profile are just 1-48 in this race and, although he won over 3m6f last May, that was in a much lower grade and there isn’t much stamina in his pedigree.
Royale Knight is off a career-high mark here, having landed the Durham National for the second year running three starts ago, but his two runs over hurdles since suggest he is in very good form at present, so that may prove to be no barrier. My main concern with him is that, like the favourite, he comes from a hurdle race and is just 1-5 above class 3 level.
Midnight Prayer is lightly-raced for an eleven-year-old, having missed all of last season through injury, but has been in good form this term and can be forgiven his last run given that he had a very hard race the time before. He’ll prefer a bit of give in the ground here and, if he can return to level of form he showed when finishing second in the Classic Chase, he’s capable of going well.
A Good Skin is another who comes from the Kim Muir, which you could argue is a negative given the recent record of horses that ran at the Cheltenham Festival, but he never looked likely to win at any stage that day and gave the impression that a step up in trip might suit. I’m convinced he has a big race in him from his current mark, but I do worry about his jumping, which often leaves a lot to be desired, and the fact that he would surely prefer better ground.
The one I like most here is Milborough, who has taken time to recapture his form since last year’s Eider win, as many winners of that race often do, but looked to be on the way back when second at Carlisle last month. He posted an RPR of 142 that day, which wasn’t bad at all considering he’d raced just once in 113 days, and is now only 3lbs higher than for his Eider win.
He also has conditions in his favour here, as he loves a bit of give in the ground, and has a similar profile to 2010 winner Merigo, who also came back to win this race having landed the Eider the year before. Despite all of this, he has been largely overlooked in the betting and I genuinely cannot believe he is priced up as a 40/1 shot. I think he is a cracking bet at the prices, and hope he will run a huge race.
2016 Scottish Grand National Tips
Milborough — 1pt each-way @ 40/1 (General)
Midnight Prayer — 0.5pt each-way @ 33/1 (General)