This weekend sees us go from Aintree to Ayr as we turn our attention to a Scottish rendition of the Grand National, a race brilliantly won last year by Christian Williams’ Win My Wings.
After the high-drama issues and performances both on and off the track over the weekend at horse racing’s biggest singular day, the Scottish Grand National homes into view to draw our attention away from the regular debates occurring between us and those of an opposing view.
With that being said, I have three horses at 6/1, 14/1, and 14/1 to highlight for BestofBets.com that are set to run in Scotland on Saturday.
Let’s dive in.
Sailing to success
My first fancy for the weekend comes in the Novices’ Champion Handicap Chase and I’ll be taking a swing at Dan Skelton’s SAIL AWAY at 6/1 to continue his progression.
Having finished second when giving six pounds away to the future two-time Ultima winner and Grand National successor, Corach Rambler, in October 2021, this gallant grey looks like he’ll relish a good three miles at a course that promotes precise jumping, something Sail Away has locked down.
When receiving his correct conditions of better ground and three miles, the Martaline gelding has finished second to Dusart in a novice chase at Leicester, third in a competitive handicap chase at Aintree, and easily won a three-runner Warwick contest.
His second to Jetoile last time out reads well considering it was over the wrong distance on slow ground and that run last month should have him 100% for Ayr on Saturday.
At 6/1, taking into account the horses he has run into and the performances he has consistently been putting in for nearly two years, Sail Away looks like a solid proposition in the second race of the day.
The former champion is back
I’m going to the Scottish Champion Hurdle at 2:25 for the second ante-post fancy of the weekend and it looks to be a very competitive field thanks to Colonel Mustard, Nemean Lion, and Iceo.
Before I give my fancy, I think ANNA BUNINA at 8/1 has got a good chance. She has constantly been improving from her win in this race last year and back on better ground, her form with Gaelic Warrior and Queens Brook reads well off a mark of 142.
However, it’s the 2021 champion MILKWOOD who gets the nod from me at 14/1.
County Hurdle third Milkwood storms clear to land the Scottish Champion Hurdle in great style for @samtwiston and @Neil_Mulholland at @ayrracecourse ???? pic.twitter.com/c9GJONog12
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) April 18, 2021
He pulled up on his last start in the County Hurdle on ground that wouldn’t have been too favourable and with the surface set to be quick enough on Saturday, he should get his correct conditions.
Neil Mulholland’s nine-year-old won this race two years ago off a four-pound higher mark and was a not-too-distant fifth in the 2022 renewal of the contest off a 12-pound higher mark.
He has been performing well this season and looked to be going well in the competitive Swinton Handicap Hurdle at Haydock in May before falling two-out, so at a course he seems to thrive off, on ground that will be suitable, and with a workable handicap mark, 14/1 seems a reasonable price for this former winner.
A Steel of a price
And finally, following his victory over Coral Gold Cup victor Le Milos last time out, EMPIRE STEEL is the horse for me in the feature race of the weekend, the Scottish Grand National, at 14/1.
I always thought this horse was waiting to land a big handicap event so to see him win a Listed race when beating the Dan Skelton runner at Kelso when seven pounds wrong at the weights was surprising, however, the handicapper has potentially let him off with one by only raising him four pounds for the effort.
Empire strikes back! ????
Le Milos traded at 1.01 in the @bet365 Premier Chase @KelsoRacecourse but his backers were floored by the fast-finishing Empire Steel who flew home late to complete a double on the afternoon for @LambdenRacing and @mania450!
A remarkable finish! pic.twitter.com/teqj1LMEWX
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) March 4, 2023
This gallant grey was second to the useful Potterman in March 2022 off a one-pound higher mark in a race that was run over 3m2f on good ground; he kept on at the finish that day which shows promise that he could handle a marathon trip on decent ground.
Furthermore, not too long ago, this nine-year-old beat Protektorat in a novice chase at Kelso in the same year that he fell at the fourth-last in the 2021 Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby when clearly going the best.
Empire Steel is in the best form of his life and off a mark of 145, he is capable of producing a career-best effort when he needs it the most.