The Scottish National & Champion Hurdle takes centre stage next weekend. The Ayr Scottish National will be watched a lot closer following the result of this years English Grand National. The winner “Auroras Encore” came a very close second in the 2012 renewal of the Scottish National. Maybe this year another future English National Winner will show up.

The big question regarding the Scottish Grand National is whether Auroras Encore will run at all! He is due to carry top weight and Sue Smith is reluctant to run him with top weight if the ground turns up soft on Saturday. According to the Ayr Racecourse website the going this morning was soft heavy in places but due 20mm of rain today! It is almost certain the ground will be soft or worse come Saturday. It would be great for the Scottish to see their Grand National Hero “Auroras Encore” line up this Saturday but it does looks highly unlikely.

So who is going to win this year’s Scottish Grand National? Well similar to the Irish Grand National we should be looking at the bottom weights.

  • 9 of the last 10 winners carried less than 11-00
  • 8 of the last 10 winners carried less than 10-06
  • 7 of the last 10 winners were priced in double digits
  • 8 of the last 10 Winners were officially rated at 143 or less
  • Paul Nichols is 0 from 19 Runners over the last 10 years
  • Age does not really matter with winners from 8 to 11 years old

The maximum no. of runners allowed is thirty so I am holding out for some reserves to make the field come final declarations. At this stage my shortlist consists of Lively Barron, Cool Operator, Fill the Power, Pentiffic, Rebeccas Choice & Monsieur Cadou. The tricky bit comes next narrowing down those six but not excluding the winner!


In other developments this week I have upgraded my website today. It looks much better but that was not difficult. A word press theme has been installed and this will make the website much more tablet and mobile friendly. Please, let me know if you see any further improvements that you think would be useful.


Eye Catchers Report Aintree Festival & Weekend 13th/14th April

Glory Boy – Trainer – Dermot Weld – Jockey – Pat Smullen

Glory Boy was making good headway up the rail when he had to be snatched up by Pat Smullen. He was sure to have won or gone very close to winning but for the door being slammed firmly in his face! He is sure to improve for his first run and will win a maiden soon no doubt before going on to better things later this season. He was purchased by owner Dr. Lambe for 145,000 last October.

Declaration of War – Trainer – Aidan O’Brien – Jockey – Joseph O’Brien

This horse is a serious animal and is destined to win a Group 1 on better ground. I thought he would really struggle on the soft ground but he won in a canter. He is dirt bred so it shows his class that he could win on his debut so easily despite the ground conditions. He has two Group 1 entries for the Lockinge Stakes (1m) at Newbury or the Tattersalls Gold Cup (1m2f) at the Curragh. Aidan O’Brien mentioned following this win that “we’re going to go for the Lockinge at Newbury and that was the plan coming here. He wants fast ground and its bit surprise that he went on that”.


Sugar Boy – Trainer – Paddy Prendergast – Jockey – Chris Hayes

Sugar Boy ran a very nice race considering the pre race concerns of his trainer. He noted last week that Sugar Boy had not come in his coat fully and was not fully wound up. I am sure the other contenders were not fully would up too but maybe Sugar Boy was that little more behind. He travelled little too freely early doors but stayed on well up the straight. The plan is to travel for one of the Derby trials in England and test him over the Derby trip of 1m4f. He is a horse to note for the Irish Derby this summer.

Red Devil Lads – Trainer Donnchadh Doyle – Jockey Harley Dunne

This is the first Point to Point winner to make my eye catchers list but he is very special. I was present to watch him win his 4 year old maiden by 15 lengths easily at Templemore in Tipperary. He stood out in the ring beforehand standing close to 17 hands. Leading from the flag drop he jumped his rivals ragged before quickening clear over the last up the steep hill finish. Donnchadh is a first Cousin of mine and is making huge progress in the point to point world. It is hard to believe he is only 26 years old. He rates this horse very highly and considering he handled Holywell previously that says a lot. It will be very interesting to see where he ends up following the Brightwell Sales at Cheltenham. He is sure to go very close to topping that sale.

Best of Luck,


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