Photo: John Grossick
The first blog for a few weeks and possibly the last one focused on jumps as the flat season starts to get underway. Overall, and despite being in a bit of deficit, it has been a decent NH season for my blog with some decent winners put up on here. Hopefully I can keep the trend going on the flat. I do think I’ve got the field for the Scottish National down to two. Have a read below and good luck.
3:55 Ayr The Scottish Grand National
A race that I’ve had a good few winners of, notably VICENTE last year and MERIGO’s second win. Without doubt it’s a cracking race and the ground should be on the good side by the off. You need a smooth travelling horse in this race and a horse that has proven stamina. Generally, those horse with higher weights on their back don’t do as well, although VICENTE bucked the trend last year. I still think a lot of the smarter horses are up there and will a good race. ARPEGE D’ALENE is Nicholls best chance and he runs as if he could stay 5 miles. If he is on song and crucially jumps well he has a cracking chance. Last year’s winner just hasn’t looked the same horse this year and I have to look over him. However, Trevor Hemming’s second string VINTAGE CLOUDS has a great chance for me. He has run consistently all year and most definitely stays. He went into my notebook when third to VIEUX LION ROUGE at Haydock and it was the way he stayed on that suggested he would benefit from a marathon trip. He was again looking to stay on at the festival when he fell. The ground and the track should suit. My main bet though is on DANCING SHADOW. He won the Edinburgh National at ease at Kelso in February on good ground. He was never travelling at Cheltenham and it makes me wonder if they ran him like that to limit his mark for this. He was so smooth at Kelso, his jumping tidy and he travelled like a dream. That style will suit him in today’s race and if he is in the top 6 or 7 coming round the bend I would fancy him to stay on up to the line. He has a good jockey booking with Nick Scholfield. The last time Victor Dartnall sent him this far north he won. He has another cracking chance.
2:45 Ayr Scottish Champion Hurdle
You most definitely need a bit of class to win this despite it being a limited handicap. Some of the horses running in this are handicap class whereas others are certainly graded horses. Of the handicappers TOMMY SILVER will love the ground, I put him up at Cheltenham but he wasn’t good enough, yet he won well last week and carries penalty. CHESTERFIELD finally came good last time too and is worth considering. On to the graded types and the likely winners; WINTER ESCAPE was my selection at the festival and he ran a great race from his lay off. That will have set him up nicely and he could quite easily take this. I’m not convinced by his price though, there has to be more value. SCEAU ROYAL is another smart horse and has two wins on good ground under his belt this year. The last twice he has come up against some top competition in YANWORTH and BEVEUR D’AIR, running creditably. This is easier and he also has an apprentice taking a massive 10lbs off his back which potentially put his graded class down to a weight of the handicappers. I can’t sniff at that or at the price when writing. He is a class horse and could run a big race.
3:40 Newbury Spring Cup Handicap
PACIFY was a horse I followed on a couple of occasions last year. He has been running at a mile and a quarter but has also won over this trip. He really caught my eye when doing some of his best work in the closing stages at York last May when beaten by NAYEL. He went up 3lbs for that and something had to be amiss in the Wolfreton Handicap when he was last out. He never ran a race and was tailed off and hasn’t been since. I think he is a class above this and could turn into a Listed performer this year. He is a huge price based on last year’s exploits and it could be worth following him regardless of today. What a price he is though. I can see him going from the front and using that extra bit of stamina he has.
4:05 Racing UK in HD Handicap Thirsk
SCUZEME went straight into my notebook when running on last time out at Nottingham over 5f. He returns pretty quickly off the same mark today in a better grade. He looks a decent sort and the way he ran on when he got going suggests he has the speed for this. He just couldn’t get out in time to peg back the winner. Hopefully today he can get out and go on and stamp his authority on this.
£2.50 ew DANCING SHADOW 3:55 Ayr 40-1 William Hill
£2.50 ew VINTAGE CLOUDS 3:55 Ayr 16-1 William Hill
£5 win SCEAU ROYAL 2:45 Ayr 9-1 Paddy Power
£5 win PACIFY 3:40 Newbury 28-1 SportingBet
£5 win SCUZEME 4:05 Thirsk 3-1 William Hill