Harry the Viking fancied for Scottish National glory
By Stephen, bettingexpert.com | Edited
Google+: Stephen Harris
Paul Nicholls progressive stayer Harry the Viking is selected to land a fiercely competitive Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr this afternoon.
The 7-y-o has defied the handicapper all season, with his tendency to idle in front meaning he rarely gets given the credit he deserves (or put up too much in the weights for apparently winning narrowly all out). He was won four useful contests on the spin before tasting defeat in the 4m National Hunt Chase (close second to the frontrunning Teaforthree), and is expected to go very close here with Ruby Walsh back in the saddle.
There are many dangers for the valuable end of season prize, with perhaps the veteran course specialist Merigo feared the most. The 11-y-o showed he was no back number when springing a suprise over three miles at this track on heavy ground in March, and has a superb record on this event. He won this race in 2010 and found only the high class Beshabar too strong in 2011, and seems sure to go close with the excellent Timmy Murphy back in the saddle (superb record on staying chasers).
Irish raider Portrait King showed these extreme tests are ideal when landing a gamble in the Eider Chase at Newcastle last time out, and he is sure to be well fancied with Denis O'Regan again in the saddle. However, the form of that win has been let down a few times by the placed horses and he has to defy a much higher mark in a better race today.
Ikorodu Road has been a real standard bearer for his small stable this season, and he built on a fortunate win at Doncaster by impressively taking a 3m2f Newbury handicap last time. This step upto four miles is a major concern however, and the recent rain easing the ground is certainly not in his favour.
Topweight Junior was a major fancy for the Aintree Grand National seven days ago but was an early faller, and his jumping remains a big concern, while Galaxy Rock appears in the grip of the handicapper after winning a decent Cheltenham contest in November.
Perhaps Mostly Bob can outrun his price for those searching away from the obvious. The Phillip Hobbs yard endured a very quiet winter, with many of the stable stars failing to fire, but there has been a plethora of winners in recent weeks and the 9-y-o appears just the type to relish an extreme stamina test. His suspect jumping has been costly all season, but perhaps the steadier tempo will suit here and he shaped as though further would suit when finishing best to win at Cheltenham in January (3m2f, came from impossible position after several errors).
In summary, a wide open renewal but Harry The Viking is fancied to be produced after the last by Ruby Walsh and land the £180,000 prize money. At around 7-1 this morning he represents decent each-way value.
Stephen's Saturday Nap Harris Tweed 2.00 Newbury
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