Scottish Grand National Betting

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Held in April each year, the Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase at Ayr Racecourse is one of the four great Grand Nationals of the jump racing season. It is preceded by Decemberís Welsh Grand National at Chepstow and is nestled snuggly between the Grand National at Aintree and the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.

As a Group 3, Class 1 National Hunt chase, the Scottish Grand National is a handicap race open to horses aged five years and upwards. It covers a distance of four miles and half a furlong on the left-handed turf of Ayrís circular track measuring one mile and four furlongs. Along the way, twenty-seven fences must be negotiated.

The very first running of the Scottish Grand National was in 1867 at the Bogside Racecourse in Irvine, which remained its home until the course closed in 1966. Prior to the move, which involved a lengthening of the race, three horses managed the hat-trick at over the original distance of three miles and seven furlongs: Couvrefeu II in 1911, 1912 and 1913; Southern Hero in 1934, 1936 and 1939; and Queen`s Taste in 1953, 1954 and 1956.

Since the relocation, the Ayr venue has produced many memorable performances, not the least of which being the consecutive wins by jockey Mark Dwyer aboard Androma in 1984 and 1985, followed by a third victory on Moorcroft Boy in 1996. The only other jockey/horse combination in recent history to win the Scottish Grand National back-to-back was Paul Kelleway on Barona in 1975~76.

In the new millennium, trainer Ferdy Murphy has worked some magic at Ayr, claiming first place finishes with three different entries: Paris Pike in 2000, Joes Edge in 2005, and Hot Weld in 2007. Nigel Twisten-Davies has kept apace, training the 2009 winner, Hello Bud, after having entered two victors in the previous decade: Captain Dribble in 1992 and Earth Summit in 1996.

In fact, Earth Summit is one of the few horses to have won both the Scottish Grand National and its English counterpart at Aintree, which happened in 1998. Music Hall was the first to accomplish it in 1920/1922. The feat was achieved by Little Polveir in 1987/1989. But only one horse has ever managed to win them both in the same year; that occurred in 1974, when the double champion was none other than the famed Red Rum.

Much like the other Grand Nationals, the Scottish version is preceded by celebrations and preliminary races known as the two-day Scottish Grand National Festival. Sponsored by Coral bookmakers, the 2011 chase carried a purse of £180,000, which was off slightly from the £zero,000 awarded in 2010. To the winner goes more than £100,000.

Given its importance, the race tends to draw a crowded field. The most recent edition saw 30 entries start, of which 13 finished. The winner by ĺ lengths was Irelandís nine-year-old gelding Beshabar at 13/2 odds, outlasting the 2010 winner Merigo (12/1) and leaving favourite Chicago Grey (5/1) a distant eighth.

Despite being a handicap, the Coral Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase is a true marathon and tends to be a very open race, stretching the horses out like long-distance runners by the finish. Winners at long odds are not uncommon here, and free bets offered by bookmakers are quite plentiful in the weeks leading up to post time. In 2011, for example, a £zero promotion was being offered by bet365, a £30 free bet by ladbrokes, £20 at paddypower, and £125 at extrabet.com.

Straight bets on the outright winner of the Scottish Grand National are the most common ante post wagers, but bookmakers offer more exotic markets, too. Popular choices are Exacta or Perfecta bets for 1st & 2nd in order, Trifecta for predicting 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in order, and Quinella for the first two runners in either order. These have significantly longer odds with minimums starting at as little as 10p.

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