Scottish-based trainer Harriet Graham is bidding to win the biggest National Hunt contest in Scotland this year when she saddles the ante-post favourite Aye Right.
Graham is a huge part of racing in Scotland. Not only is she a National Hunt trainer, she is the clerk of the course at Musselburgh and Hamilton. If successful at Ayr next month, it will be the biggest success of her career.
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Ayr Right has not prevailed so far in five starts this season, however, he has run consistently well. Back in November, he finished second behind Cloth Cap in a Grade Three Contest at Newbury. Black Op, who has Cheltenham Gold Cup odds of 66/1, was in behind him that day. The fact that Tom George’s runner is set to take his chance in the biggest race of the Cheltenham Festival says it all.
Graham’s runner will be bidding to prevail at Cheltenham himself ahead of his shot at the Scottish Grand National. He is one of the popular Cheltenham tips for the Ultima Handicap Chase on the opening day of the meeting where he is 8/1 for that contest at Prestbury Park.
The eight-year-old was very successful over hurdles. He won five times in his 12 racecourse appearances. Two years ago, he was victorious in the Scottish Grand National Meeting at Ayr, prevailing in the Scotland Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.
In his last appearance on the track, Aye Right was a close second behind Takingrisks in a Listed race at Doncaster. He now has a chase mark of 154 over fences.
Takingrisks Set To Be A Familiar Rival To Aye Right
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Takingrisks is bidding to become the first repeat winner of the Scottish Grand National since Vicente in 2017. He was successful for trainer Nicky Richards in 2019 by four lengths after going off at 25/1 in the betting.
The 12-year-old is expected to be much shorter in the market this time around as he has proved he appreciated the stamina test the 4m trip presents for the runners at Ayr. He is also comfortable in a range of different ground conditions so if the rain does fall, it should not be a problem for him.
No 12-year-old has won the Scottish Grand National since Willsford scored at that age in 1995. His victory last time at Doncaster proves the chaser remains in good form and goes into this year’s renewal as one of the leading contenders.
Takingrisks doesn’t have an entry in any of the races at the Cheltenham Festival. He is in the latest declarations for the Grand National at Aintree though. Connections are likely to decide which race they prefer closer to the events. Given how much the Grand National takes out of horses, it is unlikely he will run in both races.
This year’s Scottish Grand National, one of the last major races on the National Hunt calendar in the UK, takes place on