The Voice of Value – Scottish Grand National Tips


WE have an interesting day of racing on Saturday with some excellent flat racing at Newbury as the flat season really starts to kick in together with one of my favourite races of the year in the shape of the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr. 

I have a wedding this weekend (all the very best of luck to Scott & Eilidh by the way) so I won’t be making my annual pilgrimage to Ayr.  It reminded me the last time I missed the Scottish National was actually for another wedding which happened to be in Canada.

I woke up on the Saturday morning with the hangover from hell and was sitting in my mate’s kitchen trying my best to keep down what should have been a lovely cooked breakfast. It took me a minute to work out there was a time difference and it wasn’t a wind up when the boys called live from Ayr, screaming and shouting one of my tips Al Co had bolted up at 75-1. Happy days indeed.

Anyway, I’m not sure there is a 75-1 shot in the field for us this year but good old Al Co lines up again and it’s hard not to put a couple of pounds on him each way for old times’ sake given he owes me absolutely nothing.  He is perhaps past his best now but loves these conditions and it would be lovely to see him do it again.

The market is wide open and I am interested in last year’s winner Vicente who regular readers will remember I included in my tips for Aintree a fortnight ago only for him to crash out at the first fence. Assuming he isn’t any worse off for that fall he could be in a good position to follow up with the double this year but given that fall at Aintree and his lacklustre form this year I’m not sure 10-1 is great value so I’m going to pass him over.

The one I have plumped for in the end is a horse with many similarities to Vicente and that is his stablemate ARPEGE D’ALENE. He is a year younger than Vicente and has a similar profile to him having run well in the 4-mile race at the Cheltenham Festival before coming here as Vicente did last year.

Sean Bowen is a cracking jockey so there are no worries there and the horse looks the progressive type who will enjoy the spring ground and the marathon trip. He is a bit quirky with his jumping but if he can get into a good rhythm he should be grand.  He has had a nice gap between Cheltenham and this race and his trainer Paul Nicholls is going full tilt at every race just now in an attempt to become Champion Trainer again so you can be sure nothing will be left to chance.

For those who like to look at breeding his sire is Dom Alco who has been responsible for countless staying chasers in recent years, including Vicente and Al Co who are brothers from a different mother.  I think Arpege could keep it in the family and follow those two into the winner’s enclosure.

Just like Aintree I don’t think there is any shame in backing more than one in the race given the number of runners and the extra places on offer from some of the bookmakers. Having looked at the card in a bit of depth I am drawn back to an obvious one in the old veteran ALVARADO.

He’s been quite a lightly-raced horse over the years so at the age of 12 I’m not hugely concerned he is over the hill.  Over the last few years if you’ve been looking for one that will stay a marathon trip on good ground in the spring time then this is your go-to guy.  He was second in the race last year at 25-1 and I see no reason why he can’t do the same this year off a similar handicap mark.

Besides, it doesn’t look like a massively competitive year this time round so there is always the chance he could go one better. A few bookmakers are going 5 places at 1/4 odds but I’m tempted to back him with Paddy Power who are offering 6 places at the slightly reduced 1/5 odds but are also top price 33/1 at the time of writing so that’s how I will play it. If he is fit and well and gets round without any trouble I can’t see him not being in the top 6.

On the flat at Newbury there actually isn’t a whole lot that takes my fancy but sometimes if something looks like a winner and smells like a winner you need to back it. CHELSEA LAD was backed for the Lincoln like defeat was out of the question and ended up being a non-runner. He pops up here with Ryan Moore on board and I can’t leave him unbacked. I was torn between backing him each way given that you will get 4 places or just going on the nose but I think the 9-2 with Paddy Power and Bettered makes it a fair each-way bet and we can protect our stake by going each way.


  • 3.55 Ayr: Arpege D’Alene – 2pt win at 11-1 (Bet365)
  • 3.55 Ayr: Alvarado – 1pt e/w at 33-1 (Paddy Power – 6 places 1/5 odds)
  • 3.40 Newbury: Chelsea Lad – 2pt e/w at 9-2 (Paddy Power, Betfred)
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