BILL ESDAILE PREVIEWS THE BEST OF TOMORROW’S RACING ACTION
THERE is just over a week left of the current National Hunt season, which means that opportunities to see the great AP McCoy in action are running out fast.
The 41-year-old will be crowned champion jockey for a record-breaking 20th time at Sandown Park next Saturday, where he will also ride in his last ever race.
Before all those emotional celebrations kick off, the spotlight will be on Ayr tomorrow where McCoy has been booked to ride Benvolio in the Scottish Grand National (3.45pm).
The eight-year-old hasn’t been seen since pulling up at Haydock in February, but before that was only just denied in a head-bobbing finish to the Welsh Grand National.
Just a week on from Aintree disappointment with Shutthefrontdoor, racing fans across the land will be cheering on their champion, but again I fear it may be another frustrating afternoon.
The very best of Benvolio’s form has come when the going has been bottomless and the weather is now set to be fair north of the border.
Finding the winner of the 30-runner four-mile marathon contest is no easy feat, but my eye is immediately drawn to the Alan King-trained SEGO SUCCESS at 14/1 in places.
The stable won this prize with Godsmejudge two years ago (he was second last year too) and this race has long been the plan for this talented novice. The seven-year hasn’t been seen since finishing fifth in the four miler at the Cheltenham Festival when a mistake two from home cost him any chance.
It has been a difficult week for King and his team having lost stable star Balder Succes at Aintree, and victory for Sego Success would certainly raise spirits.
The betting is headed by Irish raider Gallant Oscar, bought in the last 48 hours by JP McManus, at 9/1 with Betway. He could easily still be ahead of the handicapper and was extremely well-backed at Cheltenham when finishing third behind The Druids Nephew.
He looks sure to be competitive with just 10st1lb on his back and has the ideal partner in Paul Carberry to nurse him home over the trip. In fact, he’d be my selection if the race was run over slightly shorter as he is by no means a guaranteed stayer.
Broadway Buffalo, who finished in front of Sego Success when second at Cheltenham, is another to warrant respect and will have no problems with the trip. However, he’s plenty short enough and has had a pretty hard season.
At a much bigger price, I’m prepared to take a chance on Sandra Hughes’s RAZ DE MAREE at 33/1 with Betway, who ran such a cracker to chase home Goonyella in the Midlands National last time. The winner has gone up 10lb for that run, while my selection has been raised only 1lb.
Raz De Maree is all about stamina and ran all the way to the line at Uttoxeter. If he can stay on his feet early on and avoid trouble, he’s a decent price for one that definitely stays the trip.
It’s difficult to be confident about any of the other races at Ayr tomorrow until the declarations are out, but one I’m interested in is LE BACARDY in the Listed handicap chase (3.10pm).
This is his first start for Dan Skelton, whose horses are in flying form, and he won the race last year off only 5lb higher. He should go well again.
LE BACARDY e/w 3.10pm Ayr (tomorrow)
SEGO SUCCESS e/w 3.45pm Ayr (tomorrow)
Raz de marEE e/w 3.45pm Ayr (tomorrow)