THE PRESENCE of 13-year-old Tidal Bay in tomorrow’s Coral Scottish Grand National (3.50pm) has given the contest an unusual shape. Paul Nicholls’ popular old-timer is rated 166 and his inclusion means that 19 of the 30 runner field will race from out of the handicap.
Tidal Bay unseated Sam Twiston-Davies at the Canal Turn in last weekend’s Grand National, so is still relatively fresh and his record in handicap company means he can’t be ruled out. However, he is usually held up and this race doesn’t normally suit that type of horse, so I’m happy to leave him alone.
Holywell and Ma Filleule, first and second in last month’s Baylis & Harding Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, both franked the form when dotting up at Aintree last week. The Cheltenham race was clearly a hot affair and for that reason my main fancy is going to be the strong jumping GREEN FLAG, who finished a running on fourth that day.
Scottish trainers love nothing more than a win in this race and you get the feeling that this has been the plan all season for Lucinda Russell and her team.
Green Flag has jumped impeccably over fences and has always looked a stayer to me so the step up to four miles seems certain to suit. He can hold a position and his agility over his fences is such an asset that I think he has an excellent chance of giving Russell her first win in this race. Take the 9/1 available with BetBright.
My other selection is YES TOM for the shrewd Northern Irish trainer Stuart Crawford at around the 14/1 mark. Last time at Down Royal the nine-year-old, on his first start for his new handler, thrashed some decent rivals including Bog Warrior, Seabass and Make A Track.
That form is very strong and, although he has done most of his winning in small fields, he has run well at Ayr in the past when trained by Roy Wilson. Paul Carberry is a very interesting jockey booking and Yes Tom can run off his correct mark, carrying exactly 10 stone.
My Tent Or Yours is certain to be a hot favourite in the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle (2.40pm), but this is a limited handicap and he is going to have to give lumps of weight away.
The one I’m going to take him on with is Alan King’s MONTBAZON, who ran really well to finish third in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham. That is also looking a strong race as Lac Fontana followed up in a Grade One at Aintree, while fourth-place Diakali nearly beat The New One in the Aintree Hurdle.
I think Montbazon can beat My Tent Or Yours at the weights and he is an each-way bet to nothing at 9/2 with BetBright.
The Racecourse Newbury hosts a fantastic card tomorrow and it is also putting on a number of new to racing initiatives for those of you who fancy a trip to Berkshire.
The highlight is the Aon Greenham Stakes (2.55pm) and Kingman is sure to be a hot favourite.
However, I’m going to have a few quid on Richard Hannon’s NIGHT OF THUNDER, who had some really solid form on soft ground last season and will hopefully be a reasonable price.
Charlie Hills must have been cursing his luck when ONE WORD MORE played up at the start in the Lincoln and had to be withdrawn. He could be back in his good books tomorrow, though, as he looks well-handicapped and William Buick takes the ride in the Berry Bros & Rudd Spring Cup (3.30pm).
Buick could be celebrating a quickfire double as John Gosden’s EAGLE TOP has apparently been scorching up the Newmarket gallops. He runs in the maiden at 4.05pm and can give the in-form stable back-to-back successes in this race.
MONTBAZON e/w 2.40pm Ayr (tomorrow)
NIGHT OF THUNDER 2.55pm Newbury (tomorrow)
ONE WORD MORE e/w 3.30pm Newbury (tomorrow)
GREEN FLAG e/w 3.50pm Ayr (tomorrow)
YES TOM e/w 3.50pm Ayr (tomorrow)
EAGLE TOP 4.05pm Newbury (tomorrow)