Saturday's Scottish Grand National at Ayr has attracted a field of 25 runners including Junior, who was a leading fancy for last week's Grand National.
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David Pipe's gelding only got as far as the second fence at Aintree so is on a retrieval mission here. However, he faces no easy task with top weight of 11st 12lb when you consider only one winner in the last 10 renewals has carried more than 10st 9lb to victory.
By the same reckoning you also have to put a line through the current 6/1 favourite Harry The Viking, who carries 10st 11lb, although he has identical credentials to last year's winner Beshabar, both having finished second in the four-miler at the Cheltenham Festival. He's 6lb higher here but it's doubtful the seven-year-old has stopped improving and he looks a danger to all.
Merigo, the winner in 2010 and runner-up 12 months ago, has been trained for the race once again and has slipped down the weights after a dismal run of form in the first half of the season. A winner over the course last time, he's clearly in great form and looks nailed on to run his race.
At just 7/1, though, any value has gone and the one that catches my eye at a big price is MAC AEDA (33/1 bet365). The Malcolm Jefferson-trained runner has really blossomed this season and looked an out and out stayer when winning on his handicap debut at Wetherby two starts back. His run behind Ikorodu Road last time out was admittedly a little disappointing but the faster ground may have been against him and conditions will be much more to his liking on Saturday.
Having made his chase debut back in October, he's still a novice but that has been no bar to success in this race. While victory for Neptune Collonges showed the importance of experience in the Grand National, the Scottish National has been a great race for novices with six being successful in the last 18 years, the latest being Beshabar. The fact he is 2lb out of the handicap is no concern either as since 1982, no fewer than 11 winners have been wrong at the weights.
Even his big odds can be seen as a positive in a way as this race has been a graveyard for favourites in recent years with several outsiders obliging, including two at 20/1, one at 33/1 and a 66/1 shot, all since 2002. Clearly you shouldn't let the price put you off and the 33/1 on offer with bet365 is extra value on account of the fact they are paying out each-way on the fifth horse home at one quarter the odds.
Portrait King (8/1 Paddy Power) is another novice who could go well despite a 9lb rise for winning last time, while it's interesting that Galaxy Rock (14/1 Coral) lines up here instead of the bet365 Gold Cup for which he was favourite. However, I'm sticking with Mac Aeda who can make it back-to-back 'National ' successes for grey horses after Neptune Collonges last weekend.