by JACK MILNER THE Scottish National is set to be a gruelling four-mile slog with the ground expected to include a lot more soft than good in the description. Two-time winner Merigo won’t be there this time but Auroras Encore, the horse who chased him home last year, is. Sue Smith’s 2013 Grand National winner will carry top weight but is unlikely to get his preferred quick ground. Mudlarks will be ones to keep on the right side of and conditions will help 2012 Irish National winner Lion Na Bearnai, Midlands National winner Big Occasion and former Haydock Grand National Trial winner Silver By Nature.
Big Occasion’s stablemate Problema Tic has Tom Scudamore on board, whereas Merigo’s regular partner Timmy Murphy rides the same owner’s Rival D’Estruval, a progressive staying chaser. Venetia Williams is having her best-ever season and has two runners with Rigadin De Beauchene and Relax, and both are sure to relish the conditions.
BetVictor are paying FIVE places, so it would seem folly to bet anywhere else.
Beshabar won the race in 2011 on the back of being placed in the four-mile National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham, and hopefully that is a good omen that can help GODSMEJUDGE for Alan King and Wayne Hutchinson. He has shown continued progression in his races and his best form has come on testing going. He was nabbed by Rigadin De Beauchene at Warwick when giving him 9lb and has a 4lb swing in the weights here with the stable in much stronger form.
He could also be a long-term Aintree Grand National horse, and could be worth backing early with BetVictor offering Non Runner-Free Bet and Five Places ante post.