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Ayr Scottish Grand National Day Preview

Ayr Scottish Grand National Day Preview

It's Ayr's major jumps weekend as they stage the Scottish Grand National on Saturday afternoon. The feature race is at 3.35pm and Welsh handler Christian Williams could be holding the aces with two major contenders in the mix. They race at Ayr from 1.15pm-5.15pm and the Racing Post has analysis and selections for all eight races.


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1.15pm - Scotty Brand Handicap Chase (Listed, 2m½f)

Sebastopol has gone up 8lb in the ratings for his success at Kempton (2m, good) last time out, form that was advertised by runner-up Golden Boy Grey scoring at Ascot since. Tom Lacey's charge looks the right favourite in this Ayr opener.

Hatcher still has top-weight despite a declining mark and needs to find his best stuff, while Malystic looked to be running a big race at Doncaster four weeks ago before he unshipped his rider at the fourth last. Brian Hughes takes over here.

Rebecca Menzies runs both Return Ticket and SAO, with preference for the latter under Nathan Moscrop. He was competitive at Doncaster and Aintree in his outings before Christmas and looks on a fair mark after a break since.

Selection: Sao

Next Best: Sebastopol

 

1.50pm - CPMS Novices' Champion Handicap Chase (3m)

Nicky Henderson thinks plenty of DUSART and there may well be more to come from him. He won his first two over fences, with Sail Away behind in second at Leicester in the first of those in January, and comes here having run a commendable fifth in the Brown Advisory at Cheltenham won by L'homme Presse last month.

He placed in a Grade 1 novice over hurdles at Aintree last spring and if he's recovered from that Cheltenham run 17 days ago - his very presence here bodes well - he may have further improvement to come and can defy top-weight with his sights lowered.

Sounds Russian has won his last three starts at Sedgefield and Kelso since December and looms as a threat. Those wins all came on testing ground but this faster surface shouldn't be a concern to him.

Doyen Breed, meanwhile, has been second-best in his last three since a winning start over fences at Hexham in November. He's been beaten by Threeunderthrufive and Does He Know at Warwick and Ascot in his two runs this calendar year and he might well emerge as the chief threat to Dusart.

Selection: Dusart

Next Best: Doyen Breed

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2.25pm - Coral Scottish Champion Hurdle (Grade 2 Limited Handicap, 2m)

Greatwood Hurdle hero West Cork ran a cracker in fourth in last month's County Hurdle at Cheltenham, the race won by a Grade 1 performer in the making State Man. Dan Skelton's charge comes here with leading claims, though that race was only 15 days ago and would have taken plenty out of his tank. He's only rated 1lb higher and has a clear chance, as the betting reflects.

Milkwood is 8lb higher in the ratings compared to when he won this race 12 months ago, so he's got plenty on his plate.

Onemorefortheroad ran well in the Imperial Cup three weeks ago on ground surely softer than ideal, he could get much closer at the finish now, while Anna Bunina is one to note for Irish trainer John McConnell given his excellent record with runners in Britain.

ALQAMAR might be some value at double-figure odds for trainer James Moffatt. He won four times on the spin from May-August last year over hurdles and was yet to be asked for an effort when he unseated at Wetherby in October - his most recent run.

He was tuned up for the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso last month but connections swerved that on raceday as the ground was too soft. Off a mark of 132 and with Charlotte Jones taking 5lb off, the Dubawi gelding has the tools to get involved in the finish.

Selection: Alqamar

Next Best: Onemorefortheroad

 

3.00pm - Jordan Electrics Ltd Future Champion Novices' Chase (Grade 2, 2m4½f)

Just the five runners but this is as tricky as anything on the card and none can be crossed off with confidence.

Minella Drama won a Haydock Grade 2 on soft ground in January and has since run credibly under a penalty at Kempton despite finishing fourth of five. He's a good-ground winner over hurdles and comes here with his chance again for Brian Hughes and Donald McCain.

Jacamar won as he pleased at Leicester (2m4f, good to soft) last month and a 4lb rise for that win isn't excessive, though this is a stiffer challenge, clearly.

DO YOUR JOB perhaps had more in hand than a half-length margin suggests when scoring under top-weight at Newcastle (2m4f, soft) in February.

Michael Scudamore's charge mixed it with some good chasers - Arkle winner Edwardstone amongst them - earlier this season and perhaps now has been found an ideal opportunity to get a graded win on his CV.

Selection: Do Your Job

Next Best: Jacamar

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3.35pm - Coral Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3, 4m)

A deeply competitive field for the big race at Ayr, with cases to be made for plenty.

Welsh handler Christian Williams could end up with the first two in the betting in Kitty's Light and Win My Wings. The former is a strong stayer and was desperately unlucky at Sandown last spring in the bet365 Gold Cup over 3m5f. Though yet to win this season, he's been running excellent races in defeat, including when second to stablemate Cap Du Nord at Kempton in February when gallantly trying to concede him more than a stone. He ticks plenty of boxes.

His Eidur Chase-winning stablemate Win My Wings is another laden with stamina and Williams has cleverly booked Rob James to take 7lb off the mare following that Newcastle success.

Fantastikas for Nigel Twiston-Davies, Leinster National fifth Stormy Judge for Pat Fahy and Alan King's progressive Major Dundee are other suitable contenders to be interested in but a chance is taken on ONE MORE FLEURIE finding his game back here.

Ian Williams' charge won four times over fences last spring, culminating in a decisive good-ground win over three miles at this very meeting.

He's 0-3 this season and his form is underwhelming, but perhaps can be excused. October's Ascot comeback was likely needed and he was quickly pulled up at Newbury in the Ladbrokes Trophy in November after meeting interference. His only run since was in the Ultima at Cheltenham last month, where he was a 125/1 shot racing from 3lb out of the handicap.

The assessor has cut him some slack now and he's within 4lb of his winning mark from this meeting a year ago. He needs to get back to the level of form and perhaps more with it, but he really came to life last spring and, at odds as big as 33/1, it might just be worth investing in his bounce-back claims.

Selection: One More Fleurie

Next Best: Kitty's Light

 

4.10pm - Tennent's Handicap Hurdle (2m5½f)

Hunters Call was in decent form prior to his Sandown disappointment in February. He's had a break since and could run well but he's 12 years old and his younger rivals really should have his measure.

Getaway Trump lost his way over fences and it didn't get any better for him returned to hurdling at Taunton in January, albeit Paul Nicholls' string were under a cloud at that time.

Enemy Coast was held in this race a year ago but is 5lb lower now coming back from a break, but last year's winner BASS ROCK gets the nod for Sandy Thomson and Ryan Mania. A winner at Carlisle in October, he's been off since running below par at the same venue in December over three miles. He typically goes well fresh and he is also very much at home on the sort of drying spring ground he's getting today.

Selection: Bass Rock

Next Best: Enemy Coast

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4.45pm - Trump Turnberry 'Hands & Heels' Finale Handicap Hurdle (Conditional/Amateur, 2m4½f)

Platinum Card is a major contender for Gordon Elliott if he lines up. He was quite smart on the Flat and has plenty going for him now sent jumping. He is, though, engaged here on Friday afternoon at 2.55pm so it remains to be seen if he turns up.

COULD BE TROUBLE for Donald McCain is the selection. The Yeats mare has won 4-9 starts over timber and one of those came here over C&D on good ground. She had a wind op in mid-winter and has twice run decent races since at Ludlow (2m5f/3m). Down to a mark of 121 now, she should be ready to run a big race.

Second choice is Groom D'oudairies for Christian Williams. He remains a maiden over timber after five attempts but he has run well in both handicaps so far at Ludlow and Taunton. The first of those was over this trip, his only time going this far, and he's one that should have more to come.

Selection: Could Be Trouble

Next Best: Groom D'oudairies

 

5.15pm - Golf Inn Prestwick Open NH Flat Race (2m)

Call Me Harry and Jimmy's Jet are bumper winners already but they are penalised accordingly and will need to find improvement to go in again.

The mare Autumn Return changed hands for £55,000 after landing a point-to-point in January in Ireland and needs close monitoring but Stuart Crawford's bumper runners in Britain always command respect and LARGY SHARK is taken to bag this Ayr finale.

He was beaten by around eight lengths in a heavy-ground Navan bumper last month on debut. He should be sharper for it and this drying ground may also aid him.

Selection: Largy Shark

Next Best: Autumn Return

 

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