It’s the last of the ‘Nationals’ on Saturday and last year’s winner Vicente can deliver again at Ayr. He’s running off the same mark as when he triumphed 12 months ago in the Scottish Grand National and can put in another big run in this valuable contest. Paul Nicholls’ stable is flying at the moment.
Nicky Henderson has yet to win any of the English, Irish, Scottish or Welsh Nationals but his Premier Bond ran a belter at Cheltenham and should love this trip and ground.
Tristan Times runs well at Ayr and was third in this race three years ago. He should go well again. Vincente’s stablemate Arpege D’Alene disappointed at Cheltenham, but this marathon 4m trip could suit him better.
The opening 3m Novices’ Handicap Chase 1.40pm at Ayr is a puzzle. Quite as a lot of these are out of form. Beware The Bear didn’t have a lot of luck at Cheltenham. Even though he carries joint top weight here I’ll give him a chance. He’s big enough to carry it.
It’s been a long, hard, season for most of these but a little further down the weights is Keltus. He hasn’t run since second at Cheltenham in October and could be the each-way play.
The Future Champions Novices Chase 2.10pm is a race that Paul Nicholls has farmed over the years and he has great hopes for Clan des Obeaux.
Cloudy Dream has stronger form but his exertions at Cheltenham and Aintree could take their toll and that would be a concern.
The Scottish Champion Hurdle (2.45pm) looks a cracker and is very competitive with 16 runners. Alan King loves a winner at this meeting and he has two very strong chances in this.
Winter Escape has the services of Mark Walsh in the saddle while Kevin Dowling has a great chance of getting a big-race win on the board. He has only two winners to date but Sceau Royal has a great chance as the track should really suit him.
In the 2m Handicap Chase at 3.20pm, Double W’s was so impressive last time that it is hard to go against him. Romain De Senam could be the value each-way.
We’ve some cracking action at Newbury on Saturday and there’s a few Classic hopefuls on show. The John Porter Stakes at 1.55pm sees one-time Derby hopeful Midterm make his seasonal bow. Sir Michael Stoute has made a good start to the season and his colt should win this.
I was working at York last year when Queen Kindly won and she is reported to have wintered well. We have to take her stamina on trust, but I’m a big fan and she can land The Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes at 2.30pm.
Richard Hannon’s team will be hoping that Barney Roy can build on the promise he showed when winning his maiden at Haydock. He looked a horse with a bright future that day and can win Saturday’s Greenham Stakes 3.05pm.
He heads the market from War Secretary. Aidan O’Brien’s colt won at Dundalk earlier this month and sets a good benchmark in this 7f contest that has a Classic pedigree.
The Spring Cup 3.40pm is as competitive as ever but market leader Chelsea Lad screams off the page with Ryan Moore booked. A saver on Donncha could be worth a saver as his consistency just has to be rewarded one day.