Just one week on from Aintree and we’re already looking at another big staying race, this time Ayr’s Scottish Grand National (4.10pm).
This has been a tricky puzzle for punters to solve in recent years – you have to go back to 2000 for the last winning favourite.
In the past decade there have only been two single-figure priced winners, while Godsmejudge in 2013 is the only one to successfully carry more than 10st 9lbs.
Willie Mullins is 1/10 to win the trainer’s championship, but he’s not going to let up until it’s practically impossible for Paul Nicholls to catch him.
He has just the one entry in this race, although that is the favourite, Measureofmydreams, who was an excellent third in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham.
That form was firmly franked when runner-up Native River landed a Grade One at Aintree last week.
Novices have a good record in this race, so he has to be respected as he bids to give Gigginstown a clean sweep of the three Nationals.
He is very difficult to rule out, but he’s short enough at 8/1 and I’d prefer to pick a couple of each-way contenders against him.
The first is ROYALE KNIGHT, for trainer Dr Richard Newland, who has won with five of his last eight runners.
This 10-year-old was sixth in last year’s Grand National and showed his liking for marathon trips when landing the Durham National at Sedgefield for the second time in October.
His last two runs have been over hurdles and over shorter trips, so this step back up to almost four miles over fences will be right up his street.
He goes on any ground and looks a solid each-way contender at 14/1 with Betway.
The other one I’m going to add to the portfolio is HIGHLAND LODGE, who, like Royale Knight, just missed out on Aintree last week.
Formerly trained by Emma Lavelle, he is now in the care of Jimmy Moffatt and he couldn’t have made a better start for the yard, winning the Becher Chase in December.
He has stamina in abundance, goes on any ground and gets in off a featherweight, which makes Betway’s 20/1 look attractive.
I’m also going to throw a couple of darts at the Scottish Champion Hurdle (3.00pm).
Mullins’ Ivan Grozny could bid for a quick double after running away with the closing handicap at the Grand National meeting.
However, this is just seven days on and he’s going to be a short price if lining up.
The weights will go up if The New One doesn’t run, but that doesn’t worry me with my two selections.
Dan Skelton is in excellent form and his CH’TIBELLO looks a live contender based on his second to Altior two starts back at Ascot.
He has a lovely racing weight and looks a decent bet at 10/1 with Betway.
My other selection is CLOUDY DREAM for Malcolm Jefferson. He’s won four of his last five outings and was particularly impressive at Market Rasen last time.
He’s a chaser in the making, but his trainer is firing in the winners at the moment and this son of Cloudings can outrun his 20/1 price.
Ch’tibello e/w 3.00pm Ayr
Cloudy Dream e/w 3.00pm Ayr
Royale Knight e/w 4.10pm Ayr
Highland Lodge e/w 4.10pm Ayr