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Nic Ladds 14th Apr 2009 - 9:45

Notre Pere doubtful as Chief Dan takes charge

The Scottish Grand National may not be as glamorous and publicised at the English version but is one of the most eagerly anticipated betting events of the year held at Ayr racecourse.

Unsurprisingly, northern-based trainers have a much better record in this event than the Aintree spectacle.

It is interesting to note Tony McCoy and Paul Nicholls have both tasted success in this race when teaming up together with Belmont King back in 1997, a feat which either is yet to do in the Grand National.

So, who is should we be looking out for at this stage to put in a big run for us and who should we avoid?

Until the participation of Welsh National winner Notre Pere is confirmed for sure we will not know exactly what kind of weight the main protagonists will carry.

Notre Pere is currently top-weight at 11-12 and can be backed at odds of 20/1. Reports suggest that he may well be withdrawn due to unsuitable ground which would make all the weights rise 10lbs, although it could be more as second top-weight Miko De Beauchene who is 25/1 in the betting will also not contest if the ground is firm.

One who definitely will take his place, is the well-backed current favourite, Chief Dan George who heads the betting at odds of 7/1.

James Moffatt's charge has been well supported, is in cracking form having won his last two races in good style, and clearly has the class to take this, having beaten the likes of Wichita Lineman and Imperial Commander over hurdles.

Whatever Ferdy Murphy runs in the race is worth having a look at as he has won the Scottish National three times, most recently in 2007 with Hot Weld.

His only runner this year is current co-second favourite, Nine De Sivola who at odds of 10/1 looks to have a great chance.

He is 8-years-old which is the perfect ages for a Scottish National winner, (7 out of the last 11 winners were aged 8), and he stayed on well in a 4m race at Cheltenham last time so will have no problem seeing out the 3m7f of this trip.

Nine De Sivola's conqueror in that Cheltenham race, Tricky Trickster also looks set to take his chance.

Also at 10/1 in the betting, he is yet to finish out of the first two over fences and winners of the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup at Cheltenham have recently had a good record in the Scottish National.

His trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has managed to saddle the Scottish National winner twice, (in 1992 and 1994) so knows what's required to get one ready for the Ayr showpiece.

Twiston-Davies could also run winners' last time out, Irish Raptor his is 25/1 in the betting and Hello Bud who is available at odds of 33/1.

The other 10/1 shot is Alan King's West End Rocker who is not the quickest but has stamina in abundance and split classy Wichita Lineman and Big Fella Thanks at Chepstow back in October.

While King has never won this race, he has a decent record with four places and West End Rocker looks set to give a bold show.

Others to look at are Paul Nicholls' only runner, Dear Villez who may have to lug top weight around if the top to, as expected do withdraw.

He ran well last time in the William Hill Trophy off a big weight and would have been closer had he not clattered the second last and Nicholls will not be sending this 14/1 shot for a day out.

Others at the top end of the betting include Nicky Richards' 12/1 shot According To John.

Merigo, also 12/1, who won over 4m1f last time out and at 8 years of ages is primed for a massive run, and Russian Trigger who won the Kent National and is the sort who will be aimed at the Grand National next season.

A big run from any of these three would be no surprise and we will get a better idea of who has the best chance when the weights are finalised and jockey bookings confirmed.

While the Scottish National doesn't have the draw of the Grand National, the betting looks to be extremely tight, and this will be a well-competed affair and we could be watching next year's Grand National stars about to make a name for themselves.

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