TIGER Roll’s win at Aintree on Saturday will live long in the memory for anyone who was at the track.
He is one of the most incredible horses of all time, winning a Triumph Hurdle, a four-miler, two Cross Country Chases and now two Grand Nationals.
He has become the people’s horse and even though his owner Michael O’Leary insists he won’t try to emulate Red Rum by winning a third, I’m pretty sure they will give it a go if the horse is fit and well.
Nationals come around like buses at this time of year and tomorrow it’s the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr (3.35pm).
The Irish had a fantastic Aintree last week with 10 winners and I reckon they might end their 150-year drought in this race.
Their only contender this year is CROSSHUE BOY who won a novice handicap chase at this meeting 12 months ago.
Although he has been well-backed during the week, there is still some juice in his price at 10/1.
He beat Dingo Dollar in that race last year and Alan King’s runner is around the 8/1 mark.
Crosshue Boy ran in the Becher Chase in December but he didn’t seem to take to the fences, while the ground would have been soft enough for him.
This will be his first start back on a decent surface since winning here last year and trainer Sean Doyle has booked top Irish pilot Sean Flanagan.
All looks set for a big run but this is obviously a wide-open contest with plenty having chances.
You couldn’t rule out Beware The Bear despite top weight after his impressive win in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham and Big River wasn’t too far behind him that day.
Vintage Clouds fell at the first at Aintree last week, while Crosspark comes here in good form but off a career high mark.
The CPMS Scottish Champion Hurdle (2.25pm) is always a very competitive limited handicap hurdle and this year’s renewal looks decent.
There has been plenty of money for Dan Skelton’s Nube Negra over the past few days and you get the feeling this has been the plan.
The yard won the race with Ch’Tibello three years ago, so he has to be feared, but my eye is drawn to top-weight VERDANA BLUE who has had such a good season.
Conditions went against her in last month’s Champion Hurdle, but she still ran respectably to finish fifth.
She has been kept busy on the all-weather over the winter and beat Buveur D’Air in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Connor Brace takes off 7lbs which brings her much closer in the weights to most of her rivals and the ground will be perfect.
Admittedly, she disappointed in this race last year but she seems a different mare this campaign and looks a good each-way bet at 8/1 with Ladbrokes.
The action gets underway with the Scotty Brand Handicap Chase (1.25pm) where I fancy AZZURI to win at this meeting for the second year in a row.
He won a novice handicap chase by 15 lengths last year and is only 1lb higher than when taking a handicap chase at Killarney by 10 lengths in July.
The Skelton yard is on fire at present and he looks a good bet at 7/2 with Coral to continue their purple patch.
Proud Scot Alan King loves nothing more than a winner at this meeting and he has a number of good chances on the card.
I particularly like his BALLYWOOD at 7/2 with Ladbrokes in the Jordan Electrics Ltd Future Champion Novices’ Chase (3.00pm).
He has won three of his last four, will love the good ground and I wouldn’t be surprised if Vinndication wasn’t declared later this morning as he wants it softer.
Azzuri 1.25pm Ayr
Verdana Blue e/w 2.25pm Ayr
Ballywood 3.00pm Ayr
Crosshue Boy e/w 3.35pm Ayr