Scottish Grand National: Paul Nicholls-trained Vicente wins for second year in a row

Sam Twiston-Davies rides Vicente to victory at Ayr
Sam Twiston-Davies pushes Vicente just ahead of Cogry to win the Scottish Grand National at Ayr

The 9-1 joint-favourite Vicente, ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies, won the Scottish Grand National for the second year in a row in a thrilling finish at Ayr.

The Paul Nicholls-trained eight-year-old closed down Cogry late in the race to win by a nose in glorious sunshine.

Vicente had fallen at the first fence at the Grand National at Aintree two weeks ago.

"Paul had him primed for the National and that didn't go to plan, but it has worked out great," said Twiston-Davies.

"The boss has turned it around. He is one of the best trainers in the country. Fair play to Vicente. He's a very brave horse, he's tried very hard and saved my day."

Vicente is the first back-to-back winner of the race since Androma in 1985.

The only Scottish-trained horse, Seldom Inn, ridden by the Grand National-winning jockey Derek Fox, pulled up early.

The winning jockey's father Nigel looked to have the race won with 18-1 Cogry, who went clear under Jamie Bargary six days after finishing second in the West Wales National.

But, as the pair duelled for the line, Vicente, who was bought by Trevor Hemmings before Aintree as a replacement for Many Clouds, prevailed.

Twiston-Davies Sr was also third with the veteran Benbens, with Alvarado fourth.

The win gave Nicholls a boost in the jump trainers' championship as he chases Nicky Henderson.

Nicholls was only narrowly beaten in the Scottish Champion Hurdle with Zubayr, and with Henderson's lead now under £200,000, the prize money at Ayr could look crucial next week.

Nicholls said: "Of course we can still win it, but everything will need to go right and we've had a couple of results today, like Zubayr, which would have made a difference. Luck hasn't been with Sam today.

"Nicky's had a fantastic season with his Grade One horses, and so have we - we won't give up until the last day.

"Sam is part of a big team, we've got a lot of good jockeys and he heads them, he'll be with us a long time."

Analysis

BBC horse racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght

This was a second Grand National in a fortnight that threw up an outstanding horse race, with Vicente and Cogry producing a stirring finish at the end of four miles.

From some way out it had looked to the raucous sell-out crowd here as though Vicente, whose name derives from the Latin for conquering, was doing just that - easily - but he had to pull out all the stops to get the better of the runner-up by a neck.

It remains unlikely that Paul Nicholls can retain the trainers' title, but this reduces the lead Nicky Henderson holds markedly with a week of the season to go.

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