While the Aintree Grand National remains the single most famous steeplechase event in the world, there are several other races that command the attention of fans and punters throughout the UK.
Take the Scottish Grand National, for example, which has been contested since 1858 and currently offers a first prize of £150,000. Considering that the first listed winner (The Elk, which prevailed in 1867) won just £100 for his trainer, this is now a sizable prize that draws runners and riders from across the length and breadth of the UK.
My Betting Site UK is always home to some exceptional Scottish Grand National betting offers, but in this post, we’ll take a look at the history of this race and who prevailed most recently in the 2021 iteration.
A Brief History of the Scottish Grand National
Back in 1867, the race was referred to as the ‘West of Scotland Grand National’, while it was initially run at a course in Houston, Renfrewshire and consisted of 32 challenging jumps.
After controversially moving to Bogside Racecourse near Irvine (despite multiple objections), the closure of this track in 1965 saw the event relocated once again to Ayr. It has remained in Ayr ever since, while it was also at this point that the race was extended to a distance of four miles (or 6,538 metres).
In terms of successful runners, three horses have won the Scottish Grand National on three separate occasions since its inception. These include the outstanding Couvrefeu II, who claimed an historic hat-trick of titles in 1911, 1912 and 1913.
Southern Hero also claimed three titles over a period of five years, winning his first in 1934 and final triumph in 1939. Queen’s Taste was the latest to achieve this feat, winning three titles in four years in 1953, 1954 and 1956.
Several jockeys have also enjoyed immense success at the Scottish Grand National, with Charlie Cunningham leading the way with four wins. He rode Bellman (1881), Wild Meadow (1885), Orcadian (1887) and Deloraine (1889) to triumph towards the end of the 19th century, setting a record that has yet to be beaten at the event.
At Ayr, it’s Mark Dwyer who has been the most successful jockey, winning with Androma (in 1984 and 1985) and Moorcroft in 1996. Dwyer is considered to be one of the most successful jockeys of all-time, having twice ridden the winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup and partnered with more than 800 winners during his career.
Interestingly, a select few horses have also won the coveted double of Aintree and Scottish Grand National, with Music Hall being the first runner to achieve this feat in 1922.
Both Little Polveir (1987) and Earth Summit (1994) can also claim this accomplishment, although neither won both races in the same year. In fact, the only runner that can make this sensational claim is Red Run, who achieved the coveted double back in 1974.
Two trainers have claimed five wins at the Scottish Grand National, namely Neville Crump and (more recently) Ken Oliver. Interestingly, four of Oliver’s winners (The Spaniard in 1970, Young Ash Leaf in 1971, Fighting Fit in 1979 and Cockle Strand in 1982) came at Ayr, while Pappageno’s Cottage provided his first triumph back in 1963.
Who Prevailed in the 2021 Iteration?
The event was cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, but despite some consternation, this year’s event was run successfully on April 18th.
Of course, the race was moved to a Sunday to accommodate the funeral of Prince Philip, but this didn’t distract from an exciting event that showcased a genuinely competitive field.
The race ultimately came down to a two-way battle between Mighty Thunder and early favourite Dingo Dollar. It was nip-and-truck throughout, but the 11/1 shot ridden by Tom Scudmore edged ahead in the final straight and ultimately won by ¾ of a length from the fancied Dingo (11/2).
The win represented a first for both jockey and trainer Lucinda Russell, who had both previously failed to achieve success in the national north of the border. The race also came after a stellar run of form for Mighty Thunder, who has now won four of his last six steeplechase outings while claiming another placed finish at Uttoxeter in March.
Exciting races of this type are normal for the Scottish Grand National, which is why we’re already looking forward to what could be in store in 2022!