Green Flag flying for home team in Scottish Grand National
Green Flag has been installed as 8/1 market leader for the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr, and the gelding looks to have outstanding claims of landing the valuable contest for the home team.
The seven-year-old is trained by Edinburgh born Lucinda Russell, who is based at Arlary House in Kinross and Scotland’s leading handler.
She is bidding to become the third Scottish born trainer to win the race since 1982, and in Green Flag has a progressive staying chaser whose form looks rock solid.
Strapping bay Green Flag was a decent hurdler, but has taken his form to a new level since tackling fences.
He won his first three starts over the larger obstacles in good style, jumping well and staying on strongly at the end of each.
Green Flag, the son of Milan, then put in a cracking effort over 3m at Kempton in the Feltham when staying on to finish a 10 length runner-up to Annacotty on a track which didn’t play to his strengths, before clipping the heels of a rival and unseating his rider in a Grade 2 novice chase at Wetherby.
He was very unfortunate that day, but showed that the tumble had left no long lasting effects when finishing a superb fourth of 23 to Holywell in the 3m 1f Baylis & Harding Affordable Luxury Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last time out.
Although beaten 11 1/3 lengths that day, Green Flag ran far better than his finishing position suggests after getting hampered by a faller at the eighth fence.
He then got outpaced three from home when the tempo quickened, before picking up in tremendous style and finishing with a real rattle to be gaining all the way to the line.
It was an effort which suggested Green Flag would relish the extended 4m trip of the Scottish Grand National, and the form of the race looks extremely strong.
The winner has since come out and bolted up by 10 lengths in the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree off a rating of 157, while the runner-up Ma Filleule ran out the easy winner of the Topham Chase at the same meeting off a mark of 150.
Considering Green Flag was receiving just 2lb from those two rivals at Cheltenham, it was a huge run given how the race unfolded, and he is now set to run off a 1lb lower mark at Ayr.
That makes him look potentially thrown-in at the weights and a worthy favourite to become the first market leader since Paris Pike (5/1) in 2000 to land the spoils.