Richard Johnson wins Scottish National on Beshabar

Beshabar and Richard Johnson
Beshabar jumped superbly at the key moments

Beshabar captured the Scottish Grand National at Ayr to give jockey Richard Johnson his first victory in the race at the 14th attempt.

He held off a spirited run from Merigo, seeking to become the first horse to retain the National for 26 years, to win by three-quarters of a length.

Favourite Chicago Grey beat Beshabar in the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup in March, but was well off the pace.

Always Right came from out of the pack to finish third.

The race is likely to come under scutiny, however, because as at Aintree in the Grand National last weekend there were two equine fatalities.

Minella Four Star and Regal Heights were both reported to have suffered internal bleeding.

Trainer Tim Vaughan was in buoyant mood after Beshabar's impressive victory and said: "Richard Johnson gave him a fantastic ride, I didn't really give him any instructions. I just told Richard we employ him because he's as good as any jockey around.

"There is no doubt that we will aim him at the Aintree Grand National next season and all the plans through the season will be geared towards that."

Johnson added: "He jumped really well and enjoyed himself and I enjoyed myself as well. It's great to win this race for the first time. He's very tough and every time Merigo came back at him, he kept pulling out more and more."

Merigo's owner Raymond Anderson Green said his horse, trained by Andrew Parker, also had Grand National possibilities.

"Of course you're always disappointed when you are beaten, but the horse has gone and run the race of his life," Green said.

"He hadn't been running too well this season, but Andrew had him in good form and I thought that if he ran to his best, he would go close. I wouldn't rule out Aintree next season, but I'm not sure that he is the type of horse for there and I would like to have another crack at this race."

Always Right's trainer John Wade commented: "That was a fantastic run. He just caught one of the fences in the straight, or I thought he would have finished second.

"He hasn't turned a hair, he is so laid back. That is it for the season, though."

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