Vintage Clouds backed to spoil fellow Hemmings-owned Vicente's hat-trick bid
Trevor Hemmings has "two very good chances of winning the next best thing to Aintree", his racing manager said on Monday – and bookmakers agree, with Vicente and Vintage Clouds vying for favouritism in the Coral Scottish Grand National this Saturday.
The leading owner will be hoping it's a case of V for victory at Ayr, a week on from the disappointment of both horses missing out on the Grand National at Aintree.
Vicente did not run due to unsuitable ground, while Vintage Clouds was the only one of the four reserves not to make it into the final field, although ultimately there were two non-runners, including a fellow reserve, that led to just 38 horses going to post.
Vicente will bid to become the first horse since Couvrefeu II in 1913 to win Scotland's biggest jumps race three years in a row and just shades Vintage Clouds at the head of the market, at a best-priced 10-1.
Meagher said: "If you can't go to Aintree, this is the next best thing. It's a very tough race, though, and there's always some others that are a few pounds well in, but we have two very good chances."
Of history-chasing dual winner Vicente, trained by Paul Nicholls, he said: "He'd have probably run in the National but for the wet weather the few days beforehand – he really doesn't like that testing ground so it was the obvious thing to do.
"It's supposed to dry up this week and hopefully it will. He's got 4lb more than the last twice, but I know Paul's happy with him, so it's fingers crossed."
Connections were disappointed the Sue Smith-trained Vintage Clouds did not make the cut at Aintree and Meagher added: "He'd have run in the National if he got in, he's a nice option to have for Ayr.
"He has run very well all season and was staying on very well at Chepstow in the Welsh National after a bad mistake down the back, and again at Cheltenham.
"The ground doesn't seem to bother him one way or the other so we wouldn't mind it drying out for him as well. He finished seventh in it last year but he's a much improved horse this year."
Colin Tizzard has four of the remaining 43 entries in the £215,000 contest after Monday's forfeit stage, including The Dutchman, who unseated at Foinavon – the 23rd fence – second time round in the Grand National.
Tizzard said: "Sizing Codelco ran very well to be fourth in the Bowl at Aintree, he hadn't shown much all year. He's quite ground dependent but seems to come alive at this time of year. If he's fine he'll run.
"Sizing Tennessee ran a great race at Cheltenham to be third in the National Hunt Chase and this is made for him.
"West Approach will run in this or the novice, and we just left The Dutchman in just to see how came out of the National. We wanted to make sure he was not full of himself this week, but if he had a hard race he wouldn't go.
"We'll see what the ground is doing and how they all are, then make a final decision."
Gordon Elliott has Fagan and Folsom Blue – both prominent in the betting at a best-priced 16-1 – in the running as he bids to add the Scottish Grand National to the Irish and Aintree versions he has won this month.
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