After so very nearly scoring in the Grand National last weekend at 25/1 we go in again against the bookies with the Scottish equivalent at Ayr. Six contenders are picked out for special attention and three labelled as worth backing.
Here are the main protagonists as I see it for what is the fourth biggest betting race of the year in Britain, Ayr’s 4m½f showpiece:
Beware The Bear
A confirmed stayer who seems to go on more or less any type of ground; he’s shown a good level of form for the country’s best and most in-form trainer (Nicky Henderson) and at this age can definitely produce more if fit and well after his exertions at Cheltenham.
A big price at around the 25/1 mark but his narrow defeat in this race last year cannot be ignored and is naturallu a standout piece of form. He went into last year’s race having run just 6 days earlier and has had more of a rest this time, albeit that rest has come after having had a hard race at the Cheltenham festival which may have blunted his performance somewhat.
As a ten-year-old we more or less know what to expect from Neil Mulholland’s charge now but that’s OK as his best form puts him in with a great chance. He will certainly appreciate good ground over this distance and it’s worth noting that he won a 3m4f event this week last year at Cheltenham’s April meeting – a repeat of that form gives him a place chance at least. Noel Fehily rides.
Despite being trained by Nicky Henderson and with good ground to help him along, it could be hard for this chap to carry top weight around for 4 miles given that he broke blood vessels at Cheltenham and arguably may not be in the very best of fettle with himself. That said he’s a class horse whose win at Ascot over the winter puts him right in the picture here under Nico De Boinville.
Henri Parry Morgan
His easy win at Ffos Las at the start of this month was achieved on heavy ground but if anything I think the better conditions at Ayr will suit him well and help him get home. Off a mark of 139 he doesn’t have to produce his very best to get involved, but should he get within a few pounds of it (which I think he will) it makes him a well handicapped horse in my opinion.
The 10yo was 9th in this race last year, beaten just 19 lengths, when coming into the contest in much worse form so it’s easy to see him taking much closer order a year on to give Peter and Sean Bowen a very big win.
Paul Nicholls’ star would be effectively be Scotland’s Red Rum if winning this having done so for the last two years in a row, his win 12 months ago coming after being rerouted from Aintree having falling in the National there.
He can definitely fill a place once again, however he’s 4lbs higher in the weights than when coming here the last twice and that alone may just be what stops him getting his head in front for an historic third win. Other than that, there are no negatives for Sam Twiston-Davies’ mount at all and he’s bound to be backed into favouritism you would think.
Plenty in with chances as you would expect and it would be wonderful to see Vicente storm home for a third win in a row in this contest. That would be a great moment for the sport and he rates as the main danger, but for me I’m happy to take HENRI PARRY MORGAN to score for the Bowen’s and for Wales.
The pick of his form marks him out as a horse fairly well-in off 139 and so with his current wellbeing confirmed with a recent facile win, he rates a fair bet to take the £122K prize back to Pembrokeshire.
Doing Fine is next on the list for my money and I wouldn’t put anyone off having an each-way tickle on these three horses at whatever best price you can find.