Ante-post Tip For Saturday’s Scottish Grand National: Vicente To Land Scottish Grand National Hat-trick On Saturday

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Vicente – 10-1 with Paddy Power Ayr 4.05pm Saturday

The decision of trainer Paul Nicholls and owner Trevor Hemmings to withdraw Vicente from the Randox Health Grand National due to the testing ground could prove a blessing in disguise as the nine-year-old will go into Saturday’s Coral-sponsored Scottish version strongly fancied to win the four mile marathon for the third year running.

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Although the ground is currently riding soft at Ayr, with a warm, settled week forecast the going is sure to be near perfect by Saturday’s off time of 4.05pm, conditions which will suit the son of Dom Alco who’s last two disappointing efforts were both on heavy ground at Chepstow and Cheltenham.

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A two and three quarter length victory over Alvarado in 2016 was followed 12 months later by a game neck win from Cogry, both achieved off a mark of 146, so with just a 4lb rise to contend with on this occasion the likely mount of Sam Twiston-Davies is undoubtedly the one they all have to beat in the race which has attracted a five-day entry of 43.

Ironically, the biggest danger to Vicente may come in the shape of another Hemmings-owned runner – namely the Sue Smith-trained Vintage Clouds who also missed out on a run in last weekend’s Tiger Roll-won spectacular. The BHA came in for some criticism from Hemmings as Vintage Clouds was not allowed to take part despite only 38 of the 40 declared field going to post, something which the authority will review prior to next year’s renewal.

The grey son of cloudings has been a model of consistency all season, failing to finish outside of the first four on all five starts including a Welsh Grand National fourth prior to a creditable third behind Coo Star Sivola and Shantou Flyer at the Cheltenham Festival. A standout 14-1 with sportingbet Vintage Clouds is likely to be a single-figure price on the day of the race and challenging Vicente for favouritism.

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