THERE would be no more popular winner of the 2015 Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr than the Lucinda Russell-trained Lie Forrit.
He burst on the scene when trained by Willie Amos in the 2008-09 season when he was ridden by Campbell Gillies, a promising jockey who lost his life nearly three years ago.
Lie Forrit is owned by Gillies’ grandfather John McNeill, his uncle Crawford McNeill and his mother, Lesley Gillies.
The 11-year-old was moved to Russell – for whom Gillies won a Grade One at the Cheltenham Festival on Brindisi Breeze – 18 months ago and has recaptured his best, as he showed when winning the Grand National Trial at Haydock, his third success this season.
He was pulled up in this race 12 months ago, but Russell feels he is in better shape now. “He’s been in fantastic form all season and he’s gone up in the handicap because he’s run so well each time,” said Russell.
“The race was a bit of an afterthought a year ago, but this time we’ve sort of had this as a target for quite a while. The ground and the track should be fine for him, he’s on as high a mark as he’s ever been over fences but maybe the extra distance might just bring out a bit more improvement. The Scottish National is a big thing to us and we’ve had a few nice horses run well in it. The thing about this horse is he’s always had quite a big following, so if he were to win it, I think it would mean a lot to a lot of people in Scotland, not just us.”
Ante-post favourite for some time has been Tony Martin’s Gallant Oscar, who ran so well behind The Druids Nephew at Cheltenham. He was bought by leading owner JP McManus this week but he is too low in the weights for Tony McCoy to ride, so Paul Carberry is in the saddle. “Hopefully all goes well. I’d be quite happy with him going into the race,” said Martin. “He ran very well at Cheltenham, so he deserves his chance to go for another big pot. He won over three miles in winter ground last season, so you’d be hoping the trip wouldn’t be any bother to him.”
McCoy’s intended mount Benvolio was declared a non-runner before 9am on Friday. With Paul Nicholls making an early decision regarding Benvolio it means the first reserve, Sue Smith’s Vintage Star, gets to take his chance.
The champion trainer is still represented by the top weight, Sam Winner, ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies, who ran well in Grade One company in Ireland earlier in the season.
Another local runner is Milborough, winner of the marathon Eider Chase at Newcastle. “If the horse could run well it would be terrific and if he were to win it would be a dream come true, really,” said trainer Ian Duncan who is based five miles from the track.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS