Grand National 2018: Seeyouatmidnight & Captain Redbeard lead Scottish challenge

By Cornelius LysaghtBBC horse racing correspondent
Derek Fox riding One For Arthur (L) clear the last to win The Grand National
Derek Fox riding One For Arthur (L) clear the last to win The Grand National
Randox Health Grand National
Date: Saturday 14 April Venue: Aintree racecourse Time: 17:15 BST
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, text updates on the BBC Sport website and mobile app

Perhaps Grand National winners can be like London - or, indeed, Edinburgh - buses.

Twelve months after One For Arthur became the first Scottish-trained winner of the Aintree feature in nearly 40 years, racing north of the border is relishing the chance of a repeat in the 2018 race.

Although there is no One For Arthur, who is being nursed back from injury by trainer Lucinda Russell, one-time Cheltenham Gold Cup hope Seeyouatmidnight and Captain Redbeard are both on course for the raid south.

In preparation, Seeyouatmidnight, who has previously defeated - and also been beaten by - big-race favourite Blaklion, is being aimed by his Berwickshire-based trainer Sandy Thomson at a first race in nearly a year because of injury at Kelso in March.

Twenty miles away at Selkirk, trainer Stuart Coltherd dreams of a second victory over the Aintree fences - after 100-1 shot Tartan Snow's win in the 2013 Foxhunters Chase - with Captain Redbeard, a perhaps luckless sixth in the Grand Sefton Chase over the course in December. He may go to the same Kelso race for a prep.

The likelihood or otherwise of a quick repeat for Scottish racing has clearly crossed the mind of Thomson, a one-time Scotland B rugby player.

He told BBC Sport: "We hadn't won the Grand Slam in rugby for about 60 years, and then along came two nearly in a row in 1984 and 1990, so you never know.

"'Midnight' had a brilliant start to last season, but also got a little niggle with a suspensory [ligament]. All's good now, and we're looking forward to going to Kelso for the Premier Chase on 3 March."

Thomson, whose wife Quona owns the 10-year-old, has never saddled a runner in the Grand National, but his grandfather Moffatt bred and sold MacMoffat, runner-up in both 1939 and 1940; the horse fell in the two immediate post-war stagings.

He said: "You can never tell how a horse will adapt to the fences, but with the prize money they put up you've nearly got to have a go if the opportunity arises. Winning would be life-changing in every way."

Brian Hughes riding Seeyouatmidnight
Brian Hughes riding Seeyouatmidnight

The 10st 8lb weight allotted to Seeyouatmidnight - who is guaranteed a run - seems more than fair, and his odds of around 40-1 are surely larger than they will be if all continues well to 14 April.

With a maximum of 40 horses lining up, Captain Redbeard's allocation of 10st 3lb currently makes him number 59 in the list, but history indicates he is likely to get into the race.

The nine-year-old, trained alongside 21 stablemates as well as Coltherd's 1,100 ewes and 70 cattle, provided the stable with its only win so far this season when successful in a valuable race at Haydock before Christmas.

"After Haydock, we took him back there to see if he'd run a nice race, and stay, over further, so we could look at Aintree, and he was second so that became the plan," said Coltherd, whose 18-year-old son Sam rides him.

"Sam was straight on to the BHA [British Horseracing Authority] to check he'd ridden enough chase winners [10] to be able to ride, and he's fine.

"I can't say the horses have been running bad, they've been hitting the crossbar, and it's been frustrating, but Spot [Captain Redbeard has a white spot on his ribs] is grand."

An adjective frequently used about jump racing's northern circuit is 'beleaguered', but as well as having Seeyouatmidnight and Captain Redbeard, the weights for the 2018 Grand National are headed by a Yorkshire-trained horse in Definitly Red. Previous winning trainers Sue Smith and Donald McCain, both based in the north, are represented in the entries.

Things are looking reasonable for the Cheltenham Festival too. Perhaps the Grand National win by the One For Arthur team signalled a turning of the tide. Slowly maybe, but surely.

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