The History of the Scottish Grand National

Good Morning!

Welcome to an additional 3rd post of the week here at If I’m doing an extra post then this means something big is happening of course, so today I am looking into today’s Scottish Grand National where I will include the history, some facts, figures and trends, essentially as much as I can possibly research ready for the big race. So let’s just jump into it!

The Scottish Grand National is a Grade 3 National Hunt Steeplechase which is open to horses aged 5 years or older and first took place in 1867. The race is held at Ayr Racecourse over a distance of 3 miles, 7 furlongs and 176 yards (6397 metres) and 27 fences are jumped.

Initially a race known as the West of Scotland Grand National was run in 1858, which consisted of 32 jumps which were mainly stone walls and was ran at a course near Houston, Renfrewshire, however from 1858 to 1866 the races were not classed as the Scottish Grand National and therefore the winners are not classed as Scottish Grand National winners. It was in 1867 that the Free Kirk leader in Houston objected to the race so it was moved to Bogside Racecourse near Irvine. The race was initially around 3 miles and then 13 years after the initial race, in 1880, the race was officially changed to its known title of the Scottish Grand National and was extended to 3 and 7/8 miles.

In 1965 Bogside Racecourse closed so therefore in 1966, the Scottish Grand National was transferred to its new home at Ayr Racecourse and at this point, the race was extended to the 3 miles, 7 furlongs and 176 yards that it is now.

Now looking at some winners in the race, the first winner in 1867 was called The Elk and was owned by the Duke of Hamilton. The first winner after the race being extended in 1880 was Peacock and the first winner when the race moved to Ayr in 1966 was African Pistol.

Some early winners include Couvrefeu II who won in 1911, 1912 and 1913. Southern Hero who won in 1934, 1936 and 1939. And finally Queen’s Taste in 1953, 1954 and 1956.

Some other notable winners to mention was Red Rum who won in 1974 for Brian Fletcher and Donald ‘Ginger” McCain and to this day is the only horse to win the English Grand National and Scottish Grand National in the same year. Barona who won the race in both 1975 and 1976 for Paul Kelleway and Roddy Armytage. It was then 1984 and 1985 when another horse won twice in 2 years and that was Androma for Mark Dwyer and Jim Fitzgerald.

In 1992 Peter Scudamore won on Captain Dibble for Nigel Twiston-Davies who won it again as a trainer 2 years later in 1994 when Earth Summit won for jockey David Bridgwater. Another notable horse to mention was the 1995 winner Willsford who was 12 years old for jockey Rodney Farrant and trainer Jenny Pitman. In 1997 the Champion Jockey AP McCoy won on Belmont King for Paul Nicholls.

Moving into the 21st Century there were winners such as Take Control for Ruby Walsh and Martin Pipe in 2002, Hello Bud for Paddy Brennan and Nigel Twiston-Davies in 2009, Beshabar for Richard Johnson and Tim Vaughan in 2011.

The next I want to mention is duel winner Vicente who won in 2016 and 2017 for Sam Twiston-Davies and Paul Nicholls. In 2018 we had Joe Farrell for Adam Wedge and Rebecca Curtis and in 2019 Takingrisks for Sean Quinlan and Nicky Richards with no race in 2020.

Some facts, figures and records now. Let’s start with the most successful horses in the race. Three horses have won the race 3 times and those are:

Couvrefeu II – 1911, 1912, 1913
Southern Hero – 1934, 1936, 1939
Queen’s Taste – 1953, 1954, 1956

So who are the leading jockey’s? The all time leading jockey is Charlie Cunningham who won 4 times: Bellman (1881), Wild Meadow (1885), Orcadian (1887), Deloraine (1889). Then the leading jockey since the race being at it’s current home at Ayr is Mark Dwyer who has won 3 times: Androma (1984, 1985), Moorcroft Boy (1996).

We have a couple of leading trainers, these are all time both with 5 wins

Neville Crump – Wot No Sun (1949), Merryman II (1959), Arcturus (1968), Salkeld (1980), Canton (1983)
Ken Oliver – Pappageno’s Cottage (1963), The Spaniard (1970), Young Ash Leaf (1971), Fighting Fit (1979), Cockle Strand (1982)

And since being at Ayr we have Ken Oliver with 4 of his 5 victories being at Ayr: The Spaniard (1970), Young Ash Leaf (1971), Fighting Fit (1979), Cockle Strand (1982)

Now let’s have a look at some winning trends. I have looked at the last 20 winners of the race since 2000 and researched some very interesting trends, so therefore I apologise if anything is incorrect, but I have done all of the research myself using multiple sources so I hope you all find them as interesting as I do.

3/20 have been 7 years old
6/20 have been 8 years old
4/20 have been 9 years old
4/20 have been 10 years old
3/20 have been 11 years old

10/20 have carried less than 10-6
8/20 have carried between 10-6 and 11-6
2/20 have carried more than 11-6

7/20 won last time out before the Scottish Grand National
6/20 finished 2nd or 3rd last time out before the Scottish Grand National
6/20 finished outside the top 3 last time out before the Scottish Grand National
1/20 fell last time out before the Scottish Grand National (This was 2017 winner Vicente who fell in the English Grand National)

5/20 last raced within 20 days before the Scottish Grand National
5/20 last raced between 20 and 30 days before the Scottish Grand National
3/20 last raced between 31 and 40 days before the Scottish Grand National
4/20 last raced between 41 and 50 days before the Scottish Grand National
3/20 last raced over 50 days before the Scottish Grand National (The longest being 2014 winner Al Co who’s last race came 104 days before with the Scottish Grand National also being his first race for a new trainer)

2/20 were favourite or joint favourite

5/20 were priced at less than 10/1
7/20 were priced between 10/1 and 18/1
8/20 were priced at 20/1 or higher (Including 2 x 20/1, 2 x 25/1, 2 x 33/1, 1 x 40/1 and 1 x 66/1)

So there we have it, plenty of facts, figures and trends that may help you pick your winner this afternoon. Good luck with whatever horse you choose to bet on and enjoy today’s racing!

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you all Wednesday evening at 6pm for a brand new post!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s