The Scottish National run at Ayr tomorrow bears little resemblance to its English counterpart (and hence why Aintree winners rarely run in it or, if they do, rarely run well in it.) For that reason, it is normally best to look for younger, sound jumping, stayers or proven stayers, with experience around stiff park courses.
Paul Nicholls has one of the fancied younger brigade in Arpege D’Alene, a 7year old novice chaser with a consistent record this season but who is also rather prone to making jumping errors. This is off putting as the race will be run at a good clip and that could well catch the horse out. Nicholls did, of course, win the race last year with Vicente. Of more interest is the lightly raced Premier Bond, at around 10/1, and trained by Nicky Henderson. This horse seems to be improving the further he runs, so the four-mile trip should suit the horse and he races off a handy weight. Battle of Shiloh is another novice with an interesting profile, if taking up the engagement, having been rested since his last run in January and with good winning form from earlier in the season. Of the more experienced stayers, Dancing Shadow looked like an improving horse when he won readily at Musselburgh over an extended 4 miles in February but was very disappointing at Cheltenham last time out. If we can forgive that run and now back on a flatter track, he would be of interest provided he can lay up with the field, early doors. At around 25/1 presently, he is worth a small each way punt. Others to consider include front running Yala Enki who came back to form last time out but may find it more difficult to last home in a stronger race and with top weight, and Doing Fine, for up and coming trainer Neil Mulholland, if the horse does not get balloted out at the declaration stage today. A tough race to find the winner of, it is probably wise to play each way tomorrow at around 10/1 the field. Tomorrow also sees Newbury’s first Saturday flat meeting with the Group 3 Greenham Stakes as the highlight. It is very early days for the flat season but trainer Richard Hannon has his horses very forward this year. As leading trainer at the course, he is sure to be well represented at the meeting and is unlikely to come away without a winner.