We have a delayed Scottish Grand National owing to the royal funeral, but it should be worth the wait.
These are our shortlisted six for Ayr:
A strong favourite in the run-up to this race, Harriet Graham’s Aye Right would be the perfect Scottish Grand National winner based on name alone!
In terms of the eight-year-old’s actual form too however, he deserves his place in this field. It’s been a busy enough season for him, however his runner-up efforts at Kelso, Newbury and Doncaster, his placed effort at Wetherby in the Charlie Hall behind Cyrname and his third last time out at the Cheltenham Festival in the Ultima all read very well.
His is so consistent this horse. The only downside to that consistency is that he’s not being given much of a break by the handicapper for getting beaten, and his form level is steady rather than overly progressive.
Coup De Pinceau
Nick Mitchell’s horse ran to around the same mark on around five occasions in a row at the start of his chasing career. Having hit a bad patch, he is now back to that sort of level having won easily at Taunton last month and it’s a level that entitles him to hold a big chance in this race at a nice price.
His four wins in 13 chase races prove that he knows how to get his head in front, he stays very well and should appreciate the dry ground. Had he been trained by a more prominent handler the he’d be half the price.
A last time out winner for a new stable, that stable being one who knows how to get the job done around Ayr, and the excellent championship-seeking jockey on board all point to a big performance from Dingo Dollar.
The trainer in question is Sandy Thomson who is vastly underrated. The Scottish handler took this horse from Alan King’s yard where he lost his way and, under Ryan Mania at Newcastle, won so easily on his stable debut over three miles last month.
He will love conditions here, has Brian Hughes on board, and looks capable of running to a mark around 10lbs better than his official rating and if he does, he’ll prove very hard to beat.
Lucinda Russell’s runner is three from 5 now over fences, and not in poor company either. Wins at Hexham and Musselburgh were achieved easily, the latter being in the Edinburgh National by 20 lengths proving that he stays incredibly well.
He went up 10lbs for that but still managed to run a very solid second in the Midlands National last time, and with another 5lb rise he may yet again run placed in a National although the mileage may just be getting to him now and he’s not massively well in unless he improves a fair bit from Uttoxeter to here.
Before pulling up last time out, Alan King’s runner had shown himself to be highly progressive. His win at Bangor and then in the Classic Chase at Warwick promoted his staying skills, but now we have a straight choice to make.
Do we believe that his last run was a blip and his progression will continue? If so, then he’s possibly well handicapped. Or, do we think that progression has stopped given how late it is in the season in which case we’d be taking a major chance on a horse who was lame last time.
Brian Ellison’s runner now doesn’t look to be the best handicapped in the race, but he was too hard to leave out of the shortlist.
Having won the Eider Chase at Newcastle for this column he proved he can stay the four miles however he’s gone up 8lbs for that success. He has been kept off the track for 50 days since and may well have recovered sufficiently, but we’d like to see serious money coming (probably from the Ellison camp) before backing him.
A cracking renewal, if a delayed one. Mighty Thunder of course has a strong and recent ‘National’ pedigree so could go well again, while Aye Right is short in the market for a reason.
The one we like best however is DINGO DOLLAR. Given that it was his stable debut and that he won so easily, it’s hard to believe his performance last time at Newcastle was the best he can muster and so improvement is almost guaranteed from him. Brian Hughes is the right man to have on board too.