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Big Occasion - Uttoxeter - 16.03.13

Big Occasion is a best-priced 8-1 to win the Scottish National for David Pipe

  PICTURE: Steve Davies  

Big Occasion slashed for Scottish National glory

BIG OCCASION was a major market mover for the Coral Scottish Grand National on Thursday, with the sponsor quoting 7-1 (from 12), just a point longer than favourite Rival D'Estruval.

The David Pipe-trained Big Occasion is, like a few of his rivals at Ayr on Saturday, after a National double, as he landed the Midlands version at Uttoxeter last time.

Big Occasion's last six races have come on heavy ground, and it is looking likely he will get his favoured testing condtions.

Josh Apiafi, for owners the Old Betfarians, tweeted on Thursday: "We'll go well but Rival D'Estruval will be hard to beat, back us both each-way."

David Stevens, spokesman for Coral, said: "Rival D'Estruval has headed the market since we opened betting and looks certain to start favourite on Saturday, although Big Occasion, who proved his stamina when winning the Midlands National on heavy ground, has been well-backed in recent days."

He added: "By contrast, the Aintree hero Auroras Encore has been easy to back, with punters at this stage not expecting him to emulate the great Red Rum by completing a famous National double, although his presence in Scotland's greatest race can only help boost the profile of what is always one of the biggest betting heats of the year."

Auroras Encore, set to be reunited with Aintee partner Ryan Mania, was eased right out to 20-1 (from 12) by Coral. Ladbrokes quote just 10-1.

Lion Na Bearnai, winner of the Irish Grand National last April, can be backed at around 25-1 after scoping clean and being declared by trainer Tom Gibney, whose 11-year-old receives 1lb from Auroras Encore, but must concede weight to the other 24 runners.

Gibney said: "The horse scoped cleanly and is all set to travel. Robbie McNamara is going to ride him as 11st 11lb is a lot of weight and his regular partner Andrew Thornton is too light for that sort of weight.
"It's a big ask for a horse who has run only once since his Irish National win, but we're travelling and hoping for the best."

Standing water lay on parts of the course on Thursday morning, but no problems are anticipated for the two-day fixture.

Acting clerk of the course Harriet Graham, who described the going as heavy, said: "It's been a nice, drying day, and we're happy. It will be testing out there but no inspections are planned."

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