Noel Fehily: Shotgun Paddy deserves a blast at the Scottish Grand National but this 16/1 rival looks well treated

Highland Lodge could hold all the aces in Ayr's feature race on Saturday

Noel Fehily

My days starts with the Harry Fry-trained Henryville in the 2m 4f Novice Chase at 2.25pm. He was an impressive winner at Exeter last time out but the soft ground could be against him on Saturday.

He’s not far off the top rated in the race, Bristol De Mai, who finished second in the JLT Chase at Cheltenham. But Nigel Twiston-Davies’ runners should relish the conditions and is the one to beat.

The New One’s absence means there’s a sharp rise in the weights for the Scottish Champion Hurdle at 3pm.

I ride Malcolm Jefferson’s Cloudy Dreams who has won his last two starts but is rated a bit behind the leading contenders. He travels strongly in his races and although he’s won on soft he may be even better on a sounder surface. A dual bumper winner he’s dropping back to the minimum trip on Saturday.

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I watched Ivan Grozny winning last weekend at Aintree and he went through the field like they were standing still at the end.

Her looks to be improving and got a 16lb hike in the ratings for that win but is technically 11lb well in here as he only carries a 5lb penalty for that success. Connections are right to take their chance and softer ground shouldn’t hinder him but it could count against his stablemate Clondaw Warrior.

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There’s some nice novices in the Scottish Grand National at 4.10pm and the race has been given that extra bit of spice with Willie Mullins sending over Measureofmydreams to try and cement the UK Trainers’ Championship from Paul Nicholls.

Nicholls will really have to win this with Vicente and pick up the stg £120k first prize money have any hope of overhauling Mullins who’s about stg £180k ahead with little over a week to go in the UK jumps season.

I ride Shotgun Paddy for Emma Lavelle who is an out-and-out stayer. He disappointed in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter last month when he was pulled up in soft ground – but only five finished that day.

Before that he chased home Rocking Blues in the Eider Chase and was third to Mountainous in the Welsh Grand National so the trip and soft ground isn’t an issue. He can throw in the odd howler at his fences he’s pretty consistent and will still be staying on when others have cried enough.

He’s just above the weight threshold on 10-13 as only one winner in the last 10 years has carried more than 10st 9lbs to victory in the Scottish National.

There’s some decent novices in this year’s race including the likely favourite Measureofmydreams, Seeyouatmidnight and Vyta Du Roc. They could still be ahead of the handicapper but have plenty of weight.


Seeyouatmidnight beat Blaklion in the Dipper Chase at Cheltenham on heavy ground but got a bit taken off his feet on quicker going when well behind Nigel Twiston Davies RSA Chase winner at the Festival. Soft ground will suit him better.

Vyta Du Roc looked a stayer in the making when winning the Grade 1 Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot in February beating Minella Rocco, who went on to beat Measureofmydreams at Cheltenham. If you fancy the favourite there’s no reason not to like Vyta du Roc who is a few points longer in the market.

Down nearer the foot of the weights is Highland Lodge won the Becher Chase at Aintree earlier in the season for new trainer James Moffatt. He didn’t make the cut for the Aintree National and gets in here off a rating of 132 but was fourth to Triolo D’Alene in the 2013 Hennessy off 143.

Highland Lodge could be well treated if back to his best. At a double-digit price, this appropriately named Scottish Grand National runner could be a bit of value to get in among the first 5 places.

What do you think?