THIS WEEK’S ‘In my Yard’ feature is a Grand National special. Emma Cheape takes a looks at the Scots likely to feature:

One of the biggest events in the racing calendar, the Grand National, takes place this weekend – and three Scottish horses are on the race card.

This year’s epic will see three Scottish horses battling it out amongst the 40-strong field at Aintree, with 30 fences and four miles of Steeplechase standing in the way of winning a massive £1,000,000 prize fund.

This makes the Grand National the most valuable jump race in Europe and the ultimate test in British horse racing – navigating fences such as The Chair, Valentine’s Brook, Foinavon, Becher’s Brook and Canal Turn.

Lake View Lad

Since the first running of the race in 1839, only three greys have ever won the Grand National – The Lamb (1868 and 1871), Nicolaus Silver (1961), and Neptune Collonges (2012).

The Alexander family hope to add their horse, Lake View Lad, to this prestigious list.

As one of the bookies’ favourites this year, the grey from Nick Alexander and his team at Kinneston, Fife, will be ridden by jockey, Henry Brooke.

This will be the first National horse to come out of the yard at Kinneston, which currently has 40 horses in training.

“He has had a great run up to this weekend,” explained trainer, Nick, “with two winning runs and third place at Cheltenham carrying top weight of 11st 12lb.”

The National will see Lake View Lad carrying a lighter weight than at Cheltenham of 11st 1lb. “He is a good horse,” Nick added.

“He will be the best we have ever had in the yard and he’s a very athletic, game, honest horse and at the moment is very well in himself.

“We have never been to the Grand National before, so it will be a family occasion. He will be travelling down with our other horse, Ebony Jewel, which runs on Friday and will be led up by groom, Mhairi Ogilvie, who looks after him and rides him out at home.

“It’s tremendous to have a horse of his calibre on the yard and to have a fantastic team behind him. It’s given the whole team at Kinneston a boost and they deserve it,” he said.

With distinctive shamrocks engraved on each toe clip of his shoes, the grey horse will see all at the yard at Kinneston and many locals backing him. “We just want him home in one piece – anything more is a bonus,” Nick concluded.

One for Arthur

One For Arthur became a household name after becoming only the second horse trained in Scotland to win the National in 2017.

Trained by Lucinda Russell, at Arlary, Kinross, he will be back this year to try and regain his title and become the first modern-day horse to regain the title since Red Rum in 1977.

After missing the 2018 race due to injury, Arthur is back and ready for the 2019 big one. Although unseating his jockey in both of his preparation races running up to the National, Lucinda is still confident he can win for a second time. “He doesn’t take much racing to get ready,” explained Lucinda. “Before his 2017 Grand National race he had only run three times. Last weekend, he jumped round the course at Ayr and he has jumped round Carlisle in preparation with jockey, Derek Fox, who was very happy with how he went.”

Derek will be taking the ride on Arthur again, with the pair carrying 11st 1lb in this year’s race – 4lbs more than on his victory day in 2017.

“The National is the biggest race to win,” Lucinda added.

“Arthur owes us nothing, but he is the best long-distance chaser in the country, so this is the race for him. The support locally for Arthur has been amazing and its nice to see so many people behind him again.”

Race day will see Arthur led up by Ailsa McClung and accompanied by travelling head girl, Jaimie Duff.

It will be a busy weekend for Lucinda as two other horses, Forest Des Aigles and Voix d’Eau, will both be racing in the Topham Chase, on Friday.

Captain Redbeard

Another returning to Aintree for a second shot at the National is the Coltherd family’s Captain Redbeard. The 2017 trip to Aintree ended sooner than expected after jockey, Sam Coltherd, was unseated at the seventh fence.

The Selkirk-based farming family run the small yard, with a string of 23 horses in training alongside their farm which runs 80 suckler cattle and 1100 ewes which are due to start lambing the day after the race.

With a nervous wait for the Coltherd team, Captain Redbeard was originally first reserve for Saturday’s race following the forfeiting stage on Monday. Gordon Elliot’s Bless the Wings was initially number 40 on the list and therefore the last horse guaranteed a run, but this was later switched to Captain Redbeard.

He will be piloted again by trainer Stuart Coltherd’s son and one of the youngest jockeys racing, 20-year-old Sam Coltherd who will be carrying a 4lb lighter weight than last year of 10st 3lb. “He has had a good preparation for the race,” said Stuart. “In his last two runs at Kelso he won and was placed third.

“He seems to be able to stay and he jumps really well, usually travelling better nearer the front of the field. He’s great and adapts to conditions, so goes well on any ground. He’s now been to Aintree a few times, so he knows where he is when he gets there,” he added.

Captain Redbeard is the only runner the Coltherds have had at the National. “It’s something that is watched by so many worldwide and to be a part of that really is amazing,” Stuart went on. “The support we get locally and from further afield is mind blowing. This year we will know what to expect when we get to Aintree.”

He will be travelling down on the day of the race and led up by Stuart’s daughter, 21-year-old Amy, who rides him out at home, and helped by Connie Wishart.

“He’s a nice ‘person’, it’s like he knows he’s the best horse on the yard and it means so much to the team. I’m not one for just going for a day out, I think he’s got a realistic chance,” concluded Stuart.

The Grand National is on Saturday, April 6, at 5.15pm.