Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson have both declared three runners for the Scottish Grand National, a race that could still be pivotal in the outcome of the trainer’s championship which lies between them.
However, Henri Parry Morgan could be a blot on the handicap and looks a massive price to win Scotland’s most prestigious jumps race at Ayr this Saturday.
The race is run over four miles and one-half furlong and there are 27 obstacles around three laps of Aye racecourse. Henderson leads Nicholls by over £300,000 in the trainer’s table and the winner of the Scottish National picks up over £120,000.
Nicholls won the race last year with Vicente and that horse is one of his representatives this time but faces a big ask at the weights.
Henderson’s best chance is with Premier Bond who was been made the ante-post favourite after finishing third in the Kim Muir Chase at Cheltenham last month.
The leading contenders like these for the Scottish National are solid handicappers but Henri Parry Morgan has delivered at the highest level.
A Group horse running in a handicap must be noted on the Flat because if a horse is good enough the weight is not an issue. Henri Parry Morgan stands out carrying just 10 stones 13 pounds in the Ayr marathon on the basis of one eye-catching piece of form at Aintree last year.
The horse was beaten by only three lengths by Native River off level weights in a Grade 1 novice chase at the 2016 Grand National meeting. Native River was fancied for the Gold Cup and ran a fine race when third behind Sizing John last month.
Blaklion was almost four lengths behind Henri Parry Morgan in the Aintree race with the same weight and that horse has won at the highest level. He won the RSA Chase at the 2016 Festival and for a long way looked the most likely winner of the Aintree Grand National earlier this month.
That evidence would indicate that at his best Henri Parry Morgan is just below the highest level of chasers but his best is now a distant memory. He has massively underperformed this season but circumstances have gone against him.
The ground has not helped Henri Parry Morgan when producing several poor efforts but there was a hint of the class back at Aintree last time out. Racing form is not an exact science but on the basis of running three lengths adrift of Native River, Henri Parry Morgan is the best horse in the Scottish National.
The bet is more about whether the horse retains that ability or the result was a fluke but in any case, there is plenty of juice in the price and margin for error if you back the horse each way, especially with bookmakers who settle bets on five places.
Tip: Henri Parry Morgan each way in the Scottish Grand National (Saturday 3.55pm at Ayr) with bookmakers offering one-quarter the odds for five places.