The Scottish Grand National is the weekend highlight at Ayr on Sunday. As with the Aintree equivalent the shortlist is long, but I have narrowed it down to Sandy Thompson’s pair Dingo Dollar and The Ferry Master and Enquarde (3.35) with marginal preference for the latter.
The ew selection – 14s with William Hill 6 places – was pulled out of a race at Cheltenham midweek on account of the prevailing fast ground, but I hope to see Dr Richard Newland allow his 7-y-old take his chance tomorrow. Four of the last six winners of the race have carried 10st 6lbs or less and the selection gets in off just 10st 3lbs this afternoon.
In the 3m Handicap Chase One More Fleurie returned to winning ways last Sunday when making most at Warwick and a 6lbs penalty may not prevent this progressive novice from following up. His jumping was exemplary in the midlands, but this is a step up in grade and I hope to see Sirwilliamwallace (1.50) build on his course win over 2m 4f here at the beginning of March. The 14s with BetVictor ew4 places looks fair.
This looks to have been the target since that 10L success and a 7lbs rise is fair although this is a much sterner test. He will need to improve for the step back up to 3m and this is likely to be the fastest ground he will have encountered. Five Star Getaway has been raised 15lbs for his latest victory, but it is impossible to tell if he has reached his ceiling.
I do not know where the pace is coming from in the Scottish Champion Hurdle, and it looks sure to be a tactical affair. Milkwood travelled very well and finished an excellent third in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham last month and a 2lbs rise is fair. Looking back at the race again on Friday morning I do feel Thyme White (2.25) will get much closer to the market leader this afternoon despite being only 4lbs better off with Milkwood for the 7L he was behind the market leader last time. The hope is that he will be ridden more prominently than was the case at the Festival and the 13/2 with MansionBet looks a fair ew price.
At Newbury, the MansionBet sponsored Spring Cup always throws up a number of future winners and todays looks a cracking renewal. I feel Troll Peninsula (3.20) could have been let in lightly for his handicap debut having looked one to follow when running away with a Kempton Novice event last time. The ew selection – 5s with Boylesports 5 places – has won two of his three career starts but does have to prove as effective on fast ground with his turf victor at Redcar being gained on soft ground back in the autumn.
I am a big fan of Chindit (2.45) and hope to see him make a winning seasonal reappearance although the Richard Hannon yard had a largely disappointing Craven meeting. The selection was a fluent winner of the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster in September before disappointing in the Dewhurst on soft ground. There will be no problems with underfoot conditions on Sunday. The colt is 9/4 with 10Bet.
At Stratford I am prepared to give Rob The Getaway (1.57) another chance n the extended 2m 3f handicap chase. The selection – 10/3 with William Hill – was no match for Bootlegger at Doncaster last time but has been dropped 1lb for that effort and his sound jumping can see him make all.
At Bangor-on-Dee this afternoon I just favour the chances of Casa Tall (12.25) over Disko Des Plages in the two-mile handicap chase. The form of the selection’s third at Market Rasen last time from a 2lbs higher mark has been boosted by the subsequent win of the runner up and Tom George’s French import would have gone even closer had he not missed out the fourth and third last. The 5s with BetVictor looks another fair ew price.
Disko Des Plages drops back to the minimum distance having pulled hard when failing to get home over an additional couple of furlongs at Chepstow earlier in the month. Brian Hughes takes over in the saddle, but I just favour Casa Tall.