Sunday Racing Preview
This weekend’s racing preview features a fantastic 8 race card from Ayr for Day 2 of their Scottish Grand National meeting. The main event itself comes up at 3:35 but before then we have a pair of Grade 2’s and some interesting handicap action. The race for the Jockey’s Championship is really heating up and Ayr looks set to potentially play a crucial part. Harry Skelton has 6 rides on the day whilst defending Champion, Hughes, has 7. I also have three selections on a classy flat card at Newbury where I am hoping we may get some Classic clues. Fingers crossed we can highlight a winner or two!
Listed honours can go to Some Reign in Ayr opener
Day 2 of Ayr’s Scottish Grand National meeting kicks off with a Listed Handicap Chase over 2 miles. Team Skelton are represented by current favourite King D’argent who has recorded two impressive wins on his last two starts. As a result, he finds himself 19lbs higher in the handicap and thrown into deeper waters. Improvement is possible but he may not have that much in hand and at the prices he could be worth taking on. Paul Nicholls’ Grand Sancy is clearly a talented horse on his day but he wouldn’t represent the most solid betting proposition. I do think he’ll appreciate the step back in trip and quick conditions, but he does tend to throw in one or two serious jumping errors. Theinval clearly loves it here and could be a huge danger off a falling mark, but it may well be that age has caught up with him and he is not the force of old. Return Ticket and Duke Of Navan have some form tied in with each other but the one I like here is Rose Dobbin’s Some Reign 5/1. A relatively lightly raced 10-year-old, Some Reign appears to be on good terms with himself and recorded a smooth success conceding plenty of weight at Carlisle last time out. The handicapper has put him up just 5lbs for that win which I believe looks a tad lenient given the cosy manner in which he won. With Return Ticket and Grand Sancy likely to make this a strongly run race, I am hoping it will suit Some Reigns hold up tactics and he can get a lovely tow into the contest. At the prices and the weights, he is the pick for me.
Hughes and Skelton set to fight out the finish aboard Flegmatik and Marown
Next up at Ayr we have a three-mile Novices’ Handicap Chase where Irish raider Pilbara heads the betting. His trainer Emmet Mullins has had plenty of success raiding English meetings this year with the likes of The Shunter and Cape Gentleman. Pilbara is 0 from 5 over fences and would by no means have the strongest form to his name but the fact he comes over here for shrewd connections is a clue and he has to warrant respect. Five Star Getaway has looked extremely progressive for trainer Christian Williams but must defy another huge hike in the weights after a smooth success at Haydock last time out. Top weight Marown has some high-class form to his name and appreciated the step up to three miles last time out. I think he’ll go well for Champion jockey Brian Hughes, but I’ll side with his arch-rival, Skelton aboard Flegmatik 9/1. He got off to the perfect start over fences, jumping well and staying on strongly for a win over the minimum trip. His season hasn’t gone to plan since, but he was a big eye catcher over three miles last time out. Held up throughout, Flegmatik made good headway before the third last and looked to be going easily before making a bad mistake. He railed well but ultimately fell too far behind at a crucial stage in the race. The return to a sounder surface will really suit and if he can put in a blemish free round of jumping, he has shown more than enough to suggest a mark of 128 underestimates him.
Scottish Champion Hurdle can go to the Champion Trainer
Milkwood currently heads the betting for this year’s Coral Scottish Champion Hurdle after a fine third placed effort in this year’s County Hurdle. He looks sure to relish the quicker ground and has strong claims at around the 5/2 mark. Dan Skelton’s Calico is another with solid claims having proven himself on quick ground with a fine second to Cape Gentleman in a Grade 2 at Kempton. He had to work harder than the 5-length winning distance suggested last time out and I would just question this horses’ maturity, especially when it get’s to business end of his races. I think he possesses a fair level of ability, but I am not entirely convinced he knows how to get the job done just yet! The two I like in here are the Paul Nicholls pair of Thyme White and Diego Du Charmil 15/2. Thyme White will love the quick ground and on form lines through Milkwood in the Betfair Hurdle would appear to be a nice price given Nicholls believes things didn’t go his way at Cheltenham. He can race extremely keenly though and lack a finishing effort, so preference is for his stablemate Diego Du Charmil. Ultra-consistent and proven on good ground, he looks sure to run his race. He is slightly more exposed than one or two of these, but Angus Cheleda takes a handy 7lbs off meaning he races here off a mark off 138. He is still currently rated 154 over fences and to my eye looks just as good over hurdles, so I’m inclined to think this is still a decent looking mark, despite carrying a penalty for Plumpton success. At the time of writing, Cheleda has 4 wins from his last 11 rides so he is in flying form. Fingers crossed he can make it 5 from 12!
Shishkin form to the fore as Allmankind and Tamaroc Du Mathan clash
Having both filled the places in behind the mighty Shishkin this season, Allmankind and Tamaroc Du Mathan 2/1 are set to clash in the two-and-a-half-mile Grade 2 Future Champions Novices Chase. Despite being rated 10lb inferior to Allmankind, I like the chances of Tamaroc Du Mathan. Allamnkind had a tough race in the Arkle and 4 weeks before had a tough race at Warwick. He looks the type to thrive on his racing but stepping up half a mile in trip, with his style of racing, after a couple of tough contests, looks a big ask. I would also question whether the quick conditions underfoot would be to his liking. His main market rival, Tamaroc Du Mathan, comes into this with a very different profile. He looks sure to relish the good ground and we know he is very good at this trip after a stylish success in a Grade 2, 51 days ago. He comes into this the fresher horse and in my opinion is open to more improvement. On ratings he will need to improve but I believe he will and should be able to stalk Allmankind round. Malystic and Whoshotthesheriff are very good horses but I do think they’ll have to step up considerable to beat the top two.
Get your Dollar on Dingo in the Coral Scottish Grand National
The feature race of the day is the Coral Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase over a gruelling 3 miles and 7 furlongs. Aye Right has been mister consistent this season and heads the betting at around 5/1. This marathon trip may well bring out a bit more improvement but the handicapper does appear to have a tight hold on him. I had initially really liked the claims Vintage Clouds but he’s been declared a non-runner. The other who caught my eye was Dingo Dollar 11/1 for Sandy Thompson and Brian Hughes. Fifth in the 2019 Ladbroke Trophy behind the likes of De Rasher Counter and The Conditional, I have always thought he may relish this sort of trip on good ground. He gets these conditions here and I would be hopeful of a big run having bounced back to form last time out. He bolted up at Newcastle and jumped well in the main. A certain Blaklion was back in fourth that day who went on to finish sixth in the Aintree Grand National. Blaklion was almost certainly having his prep run but this form still reads well, and I would like to think Dingo Dollar can make his presence felt off a mark of 145.
Wetlands can notch up another win for Hughes and Richards
Having won his last three races, I think Wetlands 11/4 can take all the beating for trainer Nicky Richards and Champion Jockey Brian Hughes. Starting off the season with a third placed finish to the smart pair of Do Your Job and Cadzand, Wetlands has progressed with every run and appears to be on a steep upward curve. Saint Sonnet heads the weights for Nicholls and Skelton meaning Wetlands has a handy racing weight of just 11 stone 4. Enemy Coast Ahead looks a potentially smart prospect for Olly Murphy but he will have to defy a 253-day absence against some race fit rivals. The others have question marks against their name and Wetlands looks the standout pick.
Glentruan can land the spoils for another Irish Raider
The penultimate race on the card is a tricky class three handicap hurdle over the intermediate trip. Paul Nicholls is represented by top weight Deniliquin whose form behind impressive Haydock winner, Vision Du Puy, looks rock solid. His profile would suggest he’s been a tricky horse to train though, and this will be just his fourth start in three years. I quite like the chances of Cork Maiden hurdle winner Glentruan 4/1 who comes into this on the back of a cosy success. He won in the manner of an improving horse that day and it could be that a mark of 118 underestimates his abilities. The Irish have successfully raided our shores all season and I’m hoping Patrick Neville can land this prize with Glentruan.
Relative to Master Minded can bring a stylish end to proceedings
The final race of the two-day meeting is a classy looking bumper. Masaccio won in the style of a useful horse for trainer Alan King on debut, whilst Nicky Henderson sends Warwick runner up, High Worth, to has a race he a decent record in. The form of the two horses mentioned wouldn’t look overly strong though and I’ll side with Flemenstide 5/2 for Nicholls and his daughter Megan. Flemenstide filled the runner up position on debut behind No Ordinary Joe who went on to finish fourth behind My Drogo and Soaring Glory on his hurdles debut in a Grade 2. This form would read extremely well and Flemestide duly backed up the good run with a smooth success at Exeter last time out. The runner up has since come out and run a good race behind the highly touted Jonbon, so again this form looks strong. Connections combined for a fantastic win in the Aintree Bumper last weekend so I’m hoping lightning can strike twice here.
Three to consider on the flat at Newbury
Away from Ayr, there is some excellent action on the flat at Newbury with plenty of Classic clues on offer. I’d like to see the impeccably bred, Snow Lantern 7/4, reappear with a win after a fine second on debut last season. Five horses in behind her that day have come out and won since so the form looks strong. Richard Hannon has always held her in high regard and knows the family well having trained her dam, Sky Lantern, to 1000 Guineas success. The Fred Darling Stakes is another feature race of the day and I’d hope to see Andrew Balding’s Alcohol Free 5/2 take this before a crack at the 1000 Guineas. A Group 1 winning two-year-old, I’ve been looking forward to seeing her step up in trip with a tilt at the top mile races in mind. Both Murphy and Balding have had a few winners of late and she looks the standout pick on form. If she is ready to rumble first time up, she should go close. The colts get a chance to shine in the Grade 3 Greenham over 7 furlongs and I think it may be worth siding with Mujbar 10/1. On two-year-old form he has plenty to make up with current favourite Chindit and it may be that he wants more cut in the ground having recorded his two wins on soft and heavy. Jim Crowley has opted to ride over Alkumait though, and he was a powerful winner of a Group 3 on his last two-year-old start. Early market nibbles have been there, and it could well be he has continued his progression over the winter and can get closer to Chinit this time around.
Best of luck if you are having a bet this weekend and enjoy the action!
By Sam Rideout
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