As National Hunt season winds down, April still has two main acts to play.
Before the Punchestown Festival begins on Tuesday with five days of Class 1 evening racing in County Kildare, Saturday sees the third National of the month.
Just as I Am Maximus at Fairyhouse and Corach Rambler rode to victory last weekend at Aintree, Saturday sees Ayr’s turn in the spotlight for the Coral Scottish Grand National.
With three fences (27) and 2f less (4m) than its Merseyside sister race, the Scottish National was last year claimed by Rob James on board 13/2 Win My Wings at a canter.
With 23 runners currently pencilled in for the weekend, who might be prominent in Western Scotland for the £112,000 prize?
Here are our picks.
Your Own Story
J: Derek Fox, T: Lucinda Russell
A narrative dream, could Derek Fox and Lucinda Russell complete a unique National tale with Your Own Story?
The team who saw Corach Rambler storm to Randox Grand National glory, the duo will buoyant of their chances north of the border.
Even so, the last horse to win both Scottish and Grand Nationals was Earth Summit in 1994 and victory for Nigel Twiston-Davies’ ride win was a platform to his Aintree win four years later.
Twiston-Davies was also the last trainer to win both races and has won at Ayr three times – most recently in 2009 with Hello Bud.
Here, Lucinda Russell could win her second after Mighty Thunder in 2021.
Your Own Story has been runner-up four times in seven runs this term, with a winner in last month’s Long Distance Wetherby Handicap.
With three runs at Ayr to date, a third, fifth and most recently second in the Marlene McPherson, the 7yo is ready to step up.
Looking to write his own script, Your Own Story is currently 8/1 across the board.
J: Harry Cobden, T: Paul Nicholls
Well it wasn’t quite Harry Cobden‘s day at Aintree, but could he fare better on board Flash Collonges?
Having travelled well on Coko Beach last weekend for 3m of the Grand National, Gordon Elliott’s fancied 28/1 8yo was eventually pulled up at the penultimate fence.
After a superb National Hunt campaign, it feels like Cobden needs one final marquee win to cap his season off and it could come at Ayr.
For a trainer in Paul Nicholls who won this race back-to-back in 2017 and 2018 with Vicente – only the third horse to have done so in post-war times – the Gloucestershire native also knows how to come out on top.
The 8yo of the Gi-Gi Syndicate won last time out at Newbury and his other more recent form reads third and two runners-up spots at Exeter and Chepstow.
A gelding who has a happy record in Scotland with a prior win in the bet365 Handicap Hurdle at Kelso two years back, Flash Collonges can deliver a trip at a shortening 14/1 with William Hill.
Cap Du Nord
J: Nick Scholfield, T: Christian Williams
Looking to win successive Scottish Nationals, Christian Williams has a double shot 12 months on in the form of last year’s runner-up, favourite Kittys Light and Cap Du Nord.
We are hedging for bigger value with the latter.
Three years Kittys Light’s senior, the 10yo was an eye-catcher in winning the Swinley Handicap Chase at Ascot back in February.
His only win of the season and a horse who struggles on the firmer turf, the expected rain to come in Ayr should suit well.
A gelding who will prefer the tackier ground, he won last year’s National Trial at Kempton in the Coral Trophy, when, conveniently, Cap Du Nord beat his rival stablemate at 11/2
Having ridden just once on Scottish soil in March 2021 when pulled-up, Cap’ will be looking for better favour and has the pedigree to impress.
Can be snagged at 18/1 with most bookies.
J: Conor O’Farrell, T: Iain Jardine
Finally, if you are after a big-price punt, Half Shot might be one to consider given his good form in the land of the Saltire.
With two wins in six outings this term, Iain Jardine has trained his 9yo to runners-up spot in the last three races – twice at Kelso.
Having won a Handicap at Perth almost a year to the day, two victories on Scottish shores is a promising history to come into this contest with.
Carrying less into this race, this is still a big step-up in trip having going over 3m just one time before – his last outing at Kelso.
Nevertheless, if he does travel well, he could catch a few off guard.
Unlike his handicap here, at a weighty 40/1 with Betfred, Half Shot may not have his glass half-full this weekend.