Nicholls leads title race after Vicente wins Scottish Grand National

VICENTE

Vicente (left) and Seeyouatmidnight do battle in the Scottish National

  PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)  

Report: Ayr, Saturday

Coral Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 4m, 5yo+

PAUL NICHOLLS reclaimed the title lead from Willie Mullins with a dramatic victory for Vicente in the Scottish Grand National capping a fantastic big-money four-timer for the reigning champion.

Vicente (14-1) won by just under three lengths from Alvarado (25-1), who was followed home by Seeyouatmidnight (14-1), Royale Knight (20-1) and Vyta Du Roc (25-1).

Nicholls started the day trailing Mullins, the 1-8 favourite, by £133,134, but wins for Vivaldi Collonges and Le Mercurey added more than £40,000 to his total to narrow the gap and Vicente’s romp added £119,595. Nicholls also pocketed a further £6,498 in the concluding bumper.

That handed Nicholls a slender £33,088 lead with a week remaining until the end of the season at Sandown.

Mullins remains the favourite with Paddy Power, who now offer 8-11 about him winning the title, while Nicholls is into even-money. William Hill go 4-6 about Nicholls, with Mullins an 11-10 shot.

How the race was won and lost

When 5lb claimer Steven Fox took things up entering the straight for the final time on home hope Seeyouatmidnight it became clear just how well Vicente was travelling under Sam Twiston-Davies.

Once the pair hit the front they powered clear, putting two and three-quarter lengths into the fast-finishing Alvarado with Seeyouatmidnight holding on for third.

“We’ve laid Vicente out for this all season,” said Nicholls after some enthusiastic celebrations. “I gave him a prep run in the four-miler [at Cheltenham] where he lost his chance when a loose horse fell in front of him but he learnt alot from that, it was good experience in a big field.”

VICENTE

A thrilled Nicholls (right) celebrates with connections at Ayr

  PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)  

The trainer added: “I told Sam to drop his iron a couple of holes as he is a horse who has his own way of jumping and has a light mouth. Sam gave him a peach of a ride.”

Joint favourites Measureofmydreams and Vyta Du Roc had contrasting races, with Mullins’ runner departing early while Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old finished fifth.

The well-supported JP McManus-owned pair of Heathfield and Cause Of Causes never featured and were pulled up, while former Grand National winner Pineau De Re unseated late when making progress past beaten horses.

Mouse Morris’s bid for an Grand National clean sweep – he had already won the Irish and Aintree versions – came to an end when Folsom Blue was brought down by Top Wood six out.

The Colin Tizzard-trained Golden Chieftain, a Cheltenham Festival winner, was fatally injured.

Trainers’ title race goes to the wire

On his bid for a tenth trainers’ title Nicholls added: “I think that put us in front in the trainers’ championship so next Saturday is going to be a big day.

“We’ll have plenty of runners and Southfield Theatre will be our representative in the big race. I’m not going to Perth but we’ll have runners all week.”

 

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