Scottish Grand National day today at Ayr, with 29 runners ‘hurtling’ around God knows how many laps of the track, all trying to claim the £122,442.50 on offer.
It’s 9-1 the field, unsurprisingly, and that brings in the winner of the past two runnings of this race in Vicente. Paul Nicholls’ charge is just 4lbs higher in its quest for a three-peat, last achieved over 100 years ago, but perhaps this is a stronger renewal than usual and the likeable 9-y-o may come up just short.
Our portfolio kicks off with the Neil Mulholland trained Doing Fine, which is available as an each way bet at 10-1. Always a doughty stayer and best on good ground, this 10-y-o son of presenting has been laid out for this race since a fine 4th in the Betfair London National in December and that planning could pay off this afternoon.
Our second pick is the Nicky Richards inmate Looking Well, which was last seen about to win a four-miler at Musselburgh before unaccountably jinking and unseating Ryan Day nearing the last. Providing there is no repeat of those antics, this looks a solid investment (each way) at 16-1.
(“I’ve just noticed the headline – Doing Fine, Looking Well – geddit?”)
Mr Mulholland also has another live contender in the race and so we suggest another each way bet on The Young Master at 16-1, not withstanding our previously harsh comments about Mr Waley-Cohen – improving with age, we hope. His mount was last seen finishing strongly into 6th (of 20) in the Amateurs handicap at Cheltenham and can run off 3lbs lower here.
Finally we can’t resist having a bash at Silsol at 25-1, in case today’s the day everything clicks into place.
Action starts at 1.45 with the Scotty Brand Handicap Chase over 2 miles and vying for favouritism in this is Theinval, which ran just yesterday but, as we write, is still an intended runner. However, run or not, we prefer the chances of Forest Bihan and Ashoka, both each way at 9-1 and 16-1 respectively.
The Dawn Homes Novices’ Championship Handicap Chase at 2.20 sees 17 youngsters fighting it out for the £60grand+ prize and we start by recommending an each way bet on our old friend Barney Dwan. Last seen finishing a gallant fourth at the Cheltenham Festival, Barney steps up to 3 miles today on its favoured surface and at 11-2 can’t go unbacked.
Best handicapped horse in this race is the seemingly unconsidered Ballycrystal and so we recommend an each way punt on this one too, at 16-1.
At 2.55 the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle takes place and there in the field is our own, our very own Attest. Marginally out of the weights and largely ignored by the pundits, there could be a little surprise in store and we suggest an each way bet at 66-1.
Calmer waters at 3.30, with just the five going to post for the Jordan Electrics Ltd Future Champion Novices’ Chase and the Alan King trained mare Mia’s Storm is favourite for this at 15-8. Said to be totally ground dependent, this 8-y-o has sidestepped countless opportunities during the ‘wet season’ but gets her conditions today. However, shouldering a penalty in these type of races is difficult and we will pin our hopes on the ultra progressive Irish raider Peregrine Run at 3-1.
Following the excitement of the National, at 4.40 the Ayrshire Hospice Land O’Burns Starlight Walk Handicap Hurdle is likely to be renamed ‘The Nicky Henderson Benefit Race’ next year, as the champion trainer has 3 in it, all with major chances.
Of the three, we prefer his new ex-French recruit Soul Emotion, which dotted up on stable debut last time out and probably won’t be stopped by the subsequent ‘handicapper’s revenge’. At ¼ odds, an each way bet is recommended at 4-1, in case it’s beaten by a stable mate.
Yours in hope.
Doing Fine 4.05 Ayr e/w @ 10-1
Looking Well 4.05 Ayr e/w @ 16-1
The Young Master 4.05 Ayr e/w @ 16-1
Silsol 4.05 Ayr e/w @ 25-1
Forest Bihan 1.45 Ayr e/w @ 9-1
Ashoka 1.45 Ayr e/w @ 16-1
Barney Dwan 2.20 Ayr e/w @ 11-2
Ballycrystal 2.20 Ayr e/w @ 16-1
Attest 2.55 Ayr e/w @ 66-1
Peregrine Run 3.30 Ayr win @ 3-1
Soul Emotion 4.40 Ayr e/w @ 4-1