Scottish Grand National tips: Simon Holt previews the action

Last Updated April 21 2018, 15:06Racing
Silsol has plenty in his favour at Ayr
Silsol has plenty in his favour at Ayr

Leading commentator Simon Holt provided Newmarket winners at 14/1 and 7/2 during this week's Craven meeting - don't miss his weekend preview.

Recommended bets: Simon Holt:

1pt e.w. Silsol in 4.05 Ayr at 25/1

1pt e.w. Contrapposto in 3.45 Newbury at 25/1

For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record


Paul Nicholls attempts a Coral Scottish Grand National hat-trick with Vicente, successful in the past two runnings on Saturday, but has a powerful 'second string' in SILSOL who could find conditions in his favour.

Harry Cobden's mount would not top many consistency polls but he ran well behind Regal Flow (now a stone worse off) when fourth in the Midlands Grand National last time and may well appreciate the better ground at Ayr.

All four of Silsol's starts this season have come on going described as heavy yet his career-best performance came on good ground over hurdles at Wetherby in October, 2016 when beating none other than Native River and Lil Rockerfeller.

It's true to say that his chasing form hasn't reached such high levels but that is reflected in his handicap mark (11lb lower) and he was also far from disgraced when fifth to Raz de Maree in a typically gruelling Welsh Grand National at Chepstow in January when running in only his fifth race over the larger obstacles.

Back in 2015, Silsol won his first two races over fences before splitting Seeyouatmidnight and One For Arthur (conceding weight to both) at Kelso and, on one previous visit to Ayr, he bolted up over hurdles.

If he can jump round cleanly under his excellent young rider, a prominent effort at big odds is, I believe, a strong possibility.

Vicente was pulled up at Cheltenham last month but he too prefers a better surface and he hadn't been in obviously good form before beating Cogry, Benbens and Alvarado (Vintage Clouds seventh) last year.

Only 4lb higher in the weights, it will be no surprise if he goes close again.

Stamina is, of course, a key requisite in all the Nationals and one or two of those high in the betting need to prove they can stay.

Vintage Clouds has improved 7lb since his seventh last year according to the handicapper and certainly ran like an out-and-out stayer when third to Coo Star Sivola at Cheltenham last month when burdened by this column's selection.

Given that many a tipster suffers from 'next time syndrome', it won't surprise me if he gets the job done this time though I do wonder if he will truly see it out.

Ballyoptic, who beat Vintage Clouds at Wetherby in early February is another who, despite plenty of classy form, needs to prove that four miles is within his compass.

Of course, there are lots of other possibilities but Fagan certainly demands a mention if only for the fact that he is trained by Gordon Elliott.

Off the track since chasing home Black Corton (Sizing Tennessee leading when falling two out) at Cheltenham in October, the eight-year-old was second to Unowhatimeanharry in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival and, while possibly a bit fragile, clearly has lots of ability.

Sizing Tennessee again ran well at Cheltenham when third to Rathvinden in the four-miler last month though he struggled home that day up the hill.

Vicente pictured winning the Scottish National
Vicente pictured winning the Scottish National last year

At Newbury, all eyes will be trained on Expert Eye as he bids to redeem his reputation in the Al Basti Equiworld Supporting Greatwood Greenham Stakes.

A brilliant winner of the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood last August (third-placed Mildenberger won the Fielden Stakes at Newmarket earlier this week), Sir Michael Stoute's 2000 Guineas prospect then flopped in the Dewhurst after getting worked up in the preliminaries.

A repeat of his career-best performance should secure victory here, though Hey Gaman and James Garfield, who both boast good Group class form, are capable of making him work for it.

Having amazingly tipped up last year's Elite Racing Club Supporting Greatwood Spring Cup winner (Banksea), it seems the height of optimism to expect a repeat but here goes...

In these big handicaps, one is always looking for a horse who might be unexposed and, therefore, well weighted, and a chance is taken this year with CONTRAPPOSTO going well despite an 11 month absence since finishing last in the Dante Stakes at York last May.

David Menuisier's colt can certainly be expected to improve for the run but his fourth in the Craven Stakes almost exactly a year ago behind Eminent, Rivet and Benbatl certainly looks better than handicapping form now.

Again, a chance is taken each-way at double-figure odds.

Posted at 1155 BST on 20/04/18.

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