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Market starts to find its voice as Scottish National looms

| 11.04.2014

The Scottish Grand National is merely days away and predictably there is no shortage of alternatives for those looking to chase or parlay their cash from the Aintree version.

Joint-favourite Mendip Express (8-1) has been at the market’s summit for months and his trainer Harry Fry is clearly looking forward to unleashing his lightly-raced eight-year-old around the Ayr course.

“We’ve been very pleased with him in the lead up to the race and he seems in very good order,” the 27-year-old trainer said.

Noel Fehily’s partner racked up a hat-trick of victories on his return to the racecourse following an over two year break since his debut and despite finishing 33 lengths behind Smad Place on his latest start on extremely testing ground in February, the performance of the winner that day in the RSA last month casts a different light on the form.

“He had a good break after the Newbury run which was disappointing at the time but, with the way that Smad Place ran in the RSA and given the very testing conditions, possibly not,” Fry added.

In the last two weeks Fry’s charge has been joined at the head of the market by the Lucinda Russell-trained Green Flag (8/1) who is reported to be on schedule for his first race since finishing fourth to Holywell at the Festival.

After Monday’s latest declarations, Welsh National third Tidal Bay was set to carry top-weight as Paul Nicholls’ charge bids to make amends for failing to make the second circuit on Merseyside last week.

Currently 16/1, the Graham Wylie-owned veteran could potentially concede 19lb as he bids to get his head in front for the first time since last November.

The 13-year-old will not be joined by some other of his Aintree participants with the likes of Rocky Creek, Monbeg Dude and runner-up Balthazar King all withdrawn.

Reigning champion Godsmejudge (16/1) remains in the race giving trainer Alan King two hands in the contest along with the nine-year-old Midnight Appeal (20/1).

Godsmejudge has been pulled-up on his last two starts but his handler has always said this was the main target as he bids to bring the prize back to Wiltshire again, a feat that hasn’t been achieved since Androma in 1985.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Sam Foster