Scottish Grand National Tips: Soldier Of Love to storm to Ayr glory

Scottish Grand National Tips: Check out our tip for the Ayr marathon here.
Scottish Grand National Tips: Check out our tip for the Ayr marathon here.

Steve Chambers previews the 2021 Scottish Grand National, and gives his best bet for the Ayr showpiece this weekend...

There's a real treat for punters on Sunday afternoon as the Scottish Grand National takes centre stage at 15:35 at Ayr, and an ultra-competitive field will line up for the 3m 7f 176y marathon. Harriet Graham's Aye Right is the market leader and the hugely consistent stayer has put up a number of creditable efforts in staying handicap chases this season, and he will be looking to add another fine run to his CV.

A stunning second to Cloth Cap in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury earlier in the season off a mark of 150, Aye Right is only 4lbs higher in Sunday's event, so has to set the standard. Following that fine Newbury run, Graham's charge was an excellent second in the Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster, while he put up a bold effort when third in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. While a mark of 154 is more than fair, he will still have to carry a lot of weight at the weekend, and he could prove vulnerable to an improving performer, and the near four-mile trip could see him struggle in the latter stages with a monster weight on his back.

Veering away from the market leader there's a whole plethora of leading contenders and the Sandy Thomson-trained Dingo Dollar heads to the Scottish track in excellent form and has to be respected. A switch from Alan King's yard to that of Thomson appears to have worked wonders, as having racked up a long losing streak, he got back to form with a ten-length success at Newcastle. However, a hefty 8lb rise for that success must hinder his chances of following up, and he can be taken on.

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Paul Nicholls has won this race three times (Belmont King 1997, Vicente 2016 & 2017) and the master of Ditcheat will look to add to that trilogy of wins, and he could unleash a three-pronged attack. The trio is set to be spearheaded by a fascinating contender in the shape of Soldier Of Love, who has to be considered a major player. He racked up a string of novice chase wins between July and September, but failed to kick on in the winter months. In October he was a creditable second to subsequent National Hunt Chase winner Galvin at Cheltenham, which is decent form, while he disappointed the following month when pulled up at Prestbury Park. A five-month absence followed, but a return to spring ground this weekend should see him at his best, and with stamina likely to be no worry then he could stand a magnificent chance of landing a fourth prize for Nicholls.

Highland Hunter is another stamina-laden contender for Nicholls, and he was last seen finishing fifth in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter, but he could be one that struggles in the quicker ground, while former Midlands National winner Truckers Lodge failed to land a blow in this year's Uttoxeter race, and looks to be in the handicapper's grip now.

Sue Smith's Vintage Clouds rolled back the years and claimed a spectacular win in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and the galloping grey is sure to be a prominent figure through the contest. But, a 7lb rise for that victory propels him back to a mark of 150 which looks to be beyond him, and he will have to settle for the minor honours.

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Another fine stayer lining up is the in-form Sam's Adventure, who was last seen winning the Eider Chase at Newcastle. A winner in two of his last three starts, Brian Ellison's charge is another that will have to deal with a hefty hike in the weights, and that 8lb rise for that win in the north east looks to have dealt a fatal blow to his chances here.

A couple at bigger prices that could run well include Special Prep, who was just touched off by Red Infantry in the Grimthorpe Chase, but could turn those tables on Sunday and looks a like a real staying test would suit. Only a few lbs higher in the weights, Special Prep is an eye-catching betting proposition at double-figured odds, so has to be given a second look, while the Nicky Richards-trained Chapel Stile is another worthy of a mention.

A taking winner at Carlisle last time out, Richards' charge has been handed a 6lb rise for that success, but he is still relatively unexposed, and with two wins from four chases showing his ability then he has to be considered. He has slight jumping issues, so he will need to improve over his obstacles, but the improver could make a significant charge for victory, but it's Soldier Of Love that makes the most appeal in a hugely competitive renewal.

Scottish Grand National
Soldier Of Love silk

Soldier Of Love

Pulled Up
Scottish Grand National
Chapel Stile silk

Chapel Stile (EW)

Pulled Up
Scottish Grand National Odds

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