2018 Grand National trends

Key Trial – Scottish National

Hot on the heels of Easter Monday’s Irish National comes the second of six key Grand National trials – the Coral Scottish Grand National – run at Ayr today (3.55).

Remember, 19/24 Grand National winners since 1994 have finished among the first five home in one of these six key races.

And in the case of the Scottish National we only have to look back as far as 2013 winner Auroras Encore who gave the biggest clue to his credentials when finishing 2nd in this race the year before.

Today’s Scottish Grand National features 30 runners, and while only 2016 winner Vicente featured at Aintree two weeks ago, there’s another really familiar name to Grand National followers in Alvarado – who twice 4th in the National in 2014 and 2015, and runner-up in this race last year.

Hopefully I’ll find more time to analyse future trials in a bit more detail, but as with the Irish National on Monday I have unearthed some pointers based on the ten Scottish National winners from 2007-2016.

Stamina – 10/10 have won a race of 3 miles or further.

Key trials – 4/10 have run in the 4-mile National Hunt Novices Chase for Amateur Riders at the Cheltenham Festival and finished among the first 5 home. Other winners have proved their mettle in races like the 4m Eider Chase at Newcastle, or the Scottish National itself.

Season form – 8/10 (including the last six winners) have won a race this season. 8/10 have placed in at least one of their last two runs.

Course / Scottish National form – 9/10 were first-time runners (2012 winner Merigo also won the 2010 edition), all 8 winners other than Merigo had never run at Ayr before.

Experience – 10/10 have at least 4 career runs over fences (excluding point-to-point races)

Age – 10/10 winners were aged between 7-11.

Big field experience – 7/10 winners had previously won a chase of 11 runners or more.

Weight – 10/10 winners carried 11-3 or less.

Season runs – 10/10 winners had 3-6 season runs

Days rest – 9/10 winners had run in the last 50 days.

As with the Irish National, the a-typical Scottish National winner is a younger ‘progressive’ horse who has yet to demonstrate their full potential with the handicapper.

Stamina and form are of course the other highly important qualities to look for, and we certainly want horses with proven form over 3 miles plus, preferably this season.

As with the Irish National, it tends to pay favouring the lighter weighted horses, although last years’ winner Vicente carried 11-3 – so I’ll treat weight as a secondary concern.

Taking the above on board I’ve looked through today’s field and applied the following trends, with a high emphasis (as always!) on proven stamina and form:

  • Stamina – Has a career win over 3 miles plus or Top 5 in a key trial / National Hunt Chase (10/10)
  • Form – Placed at least once in last two runs (8/10, incl. last six winners)
  • Experience – 4+ races over fences (10/10)
  • Age – 7+ (10/10)
  • Season runs – 3+ runs (10/10)
  • Days rest – Run in the last 50 days (9/10)

Applying the above trends helped whittle the 30-strong field down to 9. Prices correct as of 2pm (Paddy Power).

  • Missed Approach – 22/1
  • Battle Of Shiloh – 33/1
  • Premier Bond – 11/1
  • Shotgun Paddy – 20/1
  • Vintage Clouds – 16/1
  • Blakemount – 33/1
  • Dawson City – 33/1
  • Portrait King – 40/1
  • Cogry – 33/1

As you can see, the favourite Premier Bond is in among this list, although the Nicky Henderson trained 7 year-old is the sole horse currently in the top 5 of the betting.

So there’s a good number of horses available at big prices in there, reflecting what a tough race this is to predict. It will be fascinating to watch at 3.55 this afternoon.

Result

A 3rd near miss in a fortnight on the trends as 2016 Scottish National winner Vicente defies a total lack of form this season to light up once again at Ayr and claim the big race for a second straight year – a great comeback after falling at the 1st fence at Aintree just 2 weeks ago.

The trends came really close to providing the winner via 18/1 shot Cogry (who was 33/1 this morning) losing out by a head in 2nd place. With Paddy Power and a couple of other bookies paying six places each-way Blakemount may have paid an each-way return at a big price too.

Here’s how that short list performed…

  • Missed Approach – 8th
  • Battle Of Shiloh – 14th
  • Premier Bond – Pulled up
  • Shotgun Paddy – Pulled up
  • Vintage Clouds – 7th
  • Blakemount – 6th
  • Dawson City – Pulled up
  • Portrait King – 13th
  • Cogry – 2nd

As you can see, the list actually included four of the first eight home but another ‘close but no cigar’ moment!

I’ll be updating the trends pages for my 2018 Grand National preview in the weeks ahead…