SATURDAY’S feature race is the Coral Scottish Grand National which has been good to me over the years, particularly with Merigo (twice) and Al Co last year.

I was at the winning post in 2012 when Merigo won for the second time and because of the angle we were watching it from I was convinced he hadn’t managed to get up to beat Aurora’s Encore. It wasn’t until a few of the boys had picked me up (literally) off the grass that I realised he had sneaked it.

And I’ll never forget last year when I was in Canada for a wedding and received a call from one punter (who shall remain nameless) who got carried away with my advice to back Al Co with a ‘small each way’ bet and had won himself 4,500! For the record I did only have a small each way but still won £200 or thereabouts.

Great memories. So what fun does the race have in store for us this year? Sam Winner is the top weight and there is a bit of deja vu from last year in terms of the handicap because Paul Nicholls entered another classy horse in the shape of Tidal Bay who was a good bit ahead of the rest of them in terms of ratings (and therefore weight).

I didn’t fancy Tidal Bay last year and he did well to challenge coming round the bend before fading into 7th. The difference this year is that Sam Winner is a bit younger and might still have a bit to offer in terms of improvement and although he disappointed in the race last year I wouldn’t put people off backing him if they think he has what it takes to haul top weight to victory.

I always think a top weight like that is vulnerable to an improver at a lower weight though and I’ve picked out three that I think have an each-way squeak.

Raz De Maree (33-1, Bet365, Coral, William Hill) I tipped this lad for the Grand National last year (8th) and then again this year but he didn’t make the cut. His form suggests he would prefer softer ground but actually if you dig into his form he doesn’t really have bad form on good ground, it’s just that he normally races on soft or heavy. He is a guaranteed stayer so I’m willing to take a chance that he will be okay on the good ground and that he can grab a place or better having been tuned up and ready to go for the Grand National last week. Sandra Hughes trained Thunder and Roses who won the Irish National so her horses are in great shape and Bryan Cooper is an eye-catching jockey booking.

Carli King (40-1, Paddy Power) A horse who seems to be improving and unlike Raz De Maree he has proven form on good ground over marathon trips, most notably at Warwick recently where he hosed up. This is a big step up in class but 40-1 looks a good price to me.

Global Power (40-1, Stan James) I am waiting for this horse to bag a good win in a long distance race. I thought it might have been in the Irish National but he fell there and that is perhaps why you can get 40-1 about him now. I can’t ignore the trainer/jockey combination of Aspell and Sherwood who somehow managed to get an 8-year-old carrying a huge weight over the line at Aintree last week. They must be feeding the horses Weetabix or Popeye’s spinach down at that yard so it would be daft to ignore Global Power at 40-1 here.


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