Following on from Cheltenham and Newmarket earlier this week, Ayr and Newbury today stage excellent jump and flat racing cards respectively – the highlight being the Scottish Grand National at 3.55pm.
You can get 5 places with 1/4 the odds for each-way bets on the big race at Bet365, who are going 11/1 the field this morning – showing the open nature of the contest.
Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase
The shortlist is an unusually long one as a result, but at the top of it is SOUTHFIELD ROYALE who looks to have a big chance based on his exploits last season, which included a fifth in the four miler at the Festival.
He hasn’t shown much since, but has reportedly had a wind operation recently and was well backed for the Kim Muir, where he fell. The ground should be ideal for him and he has the best big race pilot aboard in Noel Fehily.
Looking at the weights, one horse really stands out as being exceptionally treated and that is our old favourite, HENRI PARRY MORGAN. We can’t afford to give him too many more chances, but he ran okay at Aintree last time out, and trainer and jockey have enjoyed successes at big prices in this race before.
Followers of this column will also know of the respect we have for Jonjo O’Neill’s staying chasers, so ANOTHER HERO looks the other one to back. He is unproven at the trip, but has been staying on to good effect over 3m in recent starts. He’s latest effort in the Kim Muir can be ignored as he was badly hampered early on. He has the first time check pieces on here to help him, as well as another top pilot in Aiden Coleman.
For the record, the others on our lengthy shortlist were Arpege D’Alene (although he’ll need to jump better), Vintage Clouds, Cogry (if he has recovered from recent exertions), Trusten Times and Alvarado.
|Southfield Royale (ew)||3.55 Ayr||11/1||Bet365|
|Henri Parry Morgan (ew)||3.55 Ayr||18/1||Bet365|
|Another Hero (ew)||3.55 Ayr||18/1||Bet365|
Weatherbys Hamilton Novices’ Handicap Chase
There is a cracking supporting card at the Scottish track and the action kicks off with a novices chase over 3 miles.
The ground may be lively enough for some of these so the best option may be proven good ground performer, KELTUS. He returns a fresh horse after a break over the winter and Paul Nicholls’ team is finishing the season with a flourish.
|Keltus (ew)||1.40 Ayr||11/2||Bet365|
Jordan Electrics Ltd Future Champion Novices’ Chase
Nicholls can take the next race too, courtesy of CLAN DES OBEAUX. This has been the plan for this horse for some time, whilst his rivals Flying Angel and Cloudy Dream turn up on the back of very hard races at both Aintree and Cheltenham.
|Clan Des Obeaux (win)||2.10 Ayr||11/4||BetVictor|
Scottish Champion Hurdle
Nicholls will be hoping for a quick hat-trick as he is doubly represented in the Scottish Champion Hurdle, but here we think his rival for the trainers’ title, Nicky Henderson, will hold sway, although we prefer the less fancied of his two runners, PEACE AND CO.
This horse is extremely well in based on his form of two seasons ago and has reportedly been a much easier horse to train at home recently. A first time hood should also help him to settle.
A horse in the same ownership, SCEAU ROYAL, could prove the big danger. The ground looks ideal for him and the flat track should play to his strengths too. He ran respectably when sixth in the Champion Hurdle and his jockey’s 10lbs claim could prove invaluable.
It is a cracking race with Winter Escape looking a worthy favourite, and London Prize and Bertimont also worthy of plenty of respect.
|Peace And Co (ew)||2.45 Ayr||14/1||Bet365|
|Sceau Royal (ew)||2.45 Ayr||9/1||Bet365|
Scotty Brand Handicap Chase
Just ahead of the big race is a listed chase over 2 miles, which looks set to be run at a lightning fast pace from the off.
That should suit the classy SIMPLY NED who has won two handicaps off of his lofty mark in the past. He has also won twice at this course before and so looks to have solid claims.
Last year’s winner, De Faoithesdream is feared if able to bounce back to his best, whilst Mixboy should be better suited by this trip than his recent assignment at the Festival, but Nicholls could resume winning ways here with ROMAIN DE SENAM and he looks the other one to back.
He has a decent swing in the weights with likely favourite, Double Ws, based on a meeting at Doncaster in January.
|Simply Ned (ew)||3.20 Ayr||11/1||Stan James|
|Romain De Senam (ew)||3.20 Ayr||8/1||Bet365|
Spring Cup Handicap
The big betting heat at Newbury is the Spring Cup over the straight mile.
It has already been a memorable week for Martyn Meade after he captured one of the high profile trial races at Newmarket and we think things can get even better for him here courtesy of CHELSEA LAD. He looks short enough in the betting in such a competitive race, but his credentials are rock solid and he has Ryan Moore on board as an added plus.
The draw is the unknown so it is best to back something on the opposite side to the favourite as well and the one that appeals is FASTNET TEMPEST for the in-form William Haggas.
Don’t discount the long shot, BOSSY GUEST, either. He was good enough to finish fourth in the 2,000 Guineas in 2015, runs well fresh and has been gelded since he last ran. Sky Bet are offering 6 places for each-way bets on this race (4 elsewhere).
|Chelsea Lad (ew)||3.40 Newbury||9/2||Bet365|
|Fastnet Tempest (ew)||3.40 Newbury||12/1||Sky Bet|
|Bossy Guest (ew)||3.40 Newbury||40/1||Bet365|