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Five of the contenders for Saturday’s Coral Scottish Grand National

Nick Murphy | 20 April 2018

Ayr showpiece is this weekend

The Coral Scottish Grand National gets underway from Ayr on Saturday at 4:05pm, with Vicente looking for a third straight success in the race.

Paul Nicholls’ raider will be vying for a place in the history books if he manages to come home first around the 4m course once more.

The Coral News Team have looked at the favourite’s chances alongside those of all the main contenders ahead of a busy nine-race card from ITV this Saturday.

Vicente

Vicente missed the English Grand National at Aintree last weekend in favour of a tilt at Ayr. And with good reason too. Nicholls’ hopeful is bidding for a hat-trick of Scottish Grand National successes.

Should he complete the feat he would move alongside Couvre feu II, Southern Hero and Queen’s Taste as the joint-most successful Scottish National horse.

He was pulled up in his last run in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham, though. Before that he unseated his rider in January.

For some that could be grounds enough to shy away from the nine-year-old. But the charge clearly likes it around here. And carrying 3lb less than last year, the Coral News Team are expecting another big run from the son of Dom Alco.

Vintage Clouds

Owner Trevor Hemmings will hope to get the job done with Vicente. But if he fails, then Vintage Clouds could clean up for the 82-year-old.

The raider will love the ground at Ayr and has been there or thereabouts in all of his runs so far this season. A third-place finish in the Ultima looks good preparation for this. So too does a handy fourth-place in the Coral Welsh Grand National in January.

He finished seventh in this renewal last year and could go one better off the same weight this time around.

Fagan

Man of the moment Gordon Elliott goes for a second National win in a week with Fagan. He’s been lightly raced this season and hasn’t been seen since finishing runner-up to Black Corton in October.

That form looks good on the back of Black Corton’s subsequent runs, including victory in December’s Kauto Star Novices’ Chase.

The eight-year-old has rarely finished outside of the top two, although a lack of experience over this distance could find him out. Good or soft ground is preferred for the unexposed British-bred raider, who will go off 11-4.

Ballyoptic

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ main hopeful impressed when winning the Towton Novices’ Chase from Vintage Clouds at Wetherby in February. He followed that up with a decent fourth to Presenting Percy in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham last month.

Form suggests he’ll stay the trip, and with only an extra 2lb slapped on from last time out, he won’t carry much of a penalty. The son of Old Vic has claims, especially on testing ground.

Gold Present

Nicky Henderson has enjoyed a magnificent season. He chalked up a quintet of winners at Aintree last week and will go again at Ayr with Gold Present.

Last month’s run in the Ultima Handicap can be struck through on account of the heavy ground. That leaves two highly impressive victories this season from his other two starts, including from Frodon in the Lavazza Silver Cup.

The raider is no stranger to big fields and his gradual ascension in trip suggests a tilt at an event like this has been in the pipeline for some time.

Carrying top weight of 11-12 could be a worry for connections. But he looks to be a real stayer. And if the eight-year-old gets the nod in Scotland, the Coral News Team are confident he’ll lay down a serious challenge.

The rest

Doing Fine and Daklondike are both near the top of the market ahead of final declarations. So too is Sizing Tennessee, Beware The Bear and Irish Grand National fourth, Folsom Blue.

Last year’s runner-up Cogry and impressive long-distance lover Dawson City are others to keep an eye on.

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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing