Henri Parry Morgan could be thrown in at the weights for the Scottish Grand National at Ayr on Saturday. It’s National season and the bookies are reeling from two well backed winners of the original and Irish version but Missed Approach could do them a favour in Scotland’s most famous race. Vicente is trying to become the first back-to-back winner since Androma in 1984 and 1985.
The Scottish Grand National is run over four miles and half a furlong which equates to three laps of Ayr racecourse. There are 27 fences to be jumped and it is a true marathon and not a sprint. There are three triple winners but not since the 1950’s. The latest multiple winner of the race is Merigo who prevailed in 2010 and 2012. Al Co and Vicente are the two former winners in the field that can complete a double.
The race moved to Ayr from Bogside in 1966 and only one winner since then has carried 12 stone. Grey Abbey carried the biggest weight to victory this century in 2004 with 11 stone 12 pounds. Since 2000 the winners have been in the 7 to 11 age group. There has been no winner trained in Ireland of the race ay Ayr. Tony McCoy only won the race in 1997 and Ruby Walsh has never ridden the winner while Nicky Henderson has never been the successful trainer.
Henri Parry Morgan has come down the weights over the last 12 months due to some disappointing efforts. Ground conditions have been against the horse but backers have had to accept not getting a run or value for their bets this season. Henri Parry Morgan carries 10 stone 10 pounds on Saturday and on official ratings must be backed at 28/1. Other horses are preferred in the betting but overall these have less proven form. Our Duke and One For Arthur have won Nationals with similar profiles.
There is a maximum potential field of 30 runners so at least 16 will go to post. The race is a handicap so that means place terms of one quarter the odds for four places but some bookmakers may go five. If you back Henri Parry Morgan in the morning I suggest you take a price because the professionals might latch on to the horse if the ground is in his favour and good to soft would be ideal. Taking best odds guaranteed is also advised as there could be a drift and a bigger starting price.
Henri Parry Morgan has produced the most eye catching piece of form of the entire field. The horse was beaten by just three lengths off level weights by Native River in a Grade 1 novice chase at Aintree last April. Blaklion was almost four lengths behind our headline horse and he looked the most likely winner of the Grand National this year for most of the race. If Henri Parry Morgan runs to the level he produced at Aintree he wins at a canter carrying four pounds less than 11 stone.
Missed Approach could be backed at 16/1 after the five day declarations but there could be a move on the horse after positive news from the trainer. Warren Greatrex believes his horse has the right credentials for the Ayr long distance test following an impressive run at Cheltenham. He commented in the Racing Post this week that:
“Missed Approach put in a great performance at Cheltenham. It didn’t surprise me because I think he’s a really good horse. He ran really well and has come out of that great and this is a good race for novices. The conditions will suit and if he gets into a nice rhythm he could run a big race”.
The Scottish National carries a level of prize money that would open up the trainer’s championship if Paul Nicholls won the race with Vicente again or one of his other two potential starters. However, Henderson seems home and hosed in that market and Nicholls would still be off the pace even if he bagged the Scottish National again. The prizes for top jockey, Richard Johnson again, and trainer will be presented at Sandown next Saturday when the Whitbread is run! (Or whatever its called these days).
Al Co looks a bit too long in the truth to repeat the win in 2014 so Henri Parry Morgan is the tip. Bad form is temporary and proven class is permanent and any Scottish Grand National horse just three lengths inferior to Native River is a graded horse running in a handicap. Henri Parry Morgan can prove that adage is correct at Ayr on Saturday.