Mick Fitzgerald: My five to back at Ayr on Scottish National Day

Our expert pundit runs the rule over the card on a huge day of racing in Scotland before you get the privilege of seeing his beautiful mug on ITV Racing…

Mick Fitzgerald


Scottish Grand National day at Ayr always creates a great buzz up there.

Amazingly, Gordon Elliott has a chance of adding to his recent National successes at Aintree and Fairyhouse for a unique three-peat in the racing calendar.

Let’s kick off today’s tips with a tight handicap chase over two miles.

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13:45 – Scotty Brand Handicap Chase

Nicky Henderson runs Theinval in the Scotty Brand Handicap Chase (13:45) after a fourth place finish on Friday at Aintree. Don’t be put off by that run though, as he should have won here last year on his second run in two days.

He may have to fend off his former stablemate Vaniteux, who won this last year.

This horse has struggled, but David Pipe has his team in good form and this lad will love the ground.

14:20 – Dawn Homes Novices’ Championship Handicap Chase

Barney Dwan sets a really good standard in the Dawn Homes Novices’ Championship Handicap Chase At 14:20.

He loves this type of ground and will be tough as old boots to beat. Ron’s Dream is a big price after being punished by the handicapper for here last win, but is still value for an each-way flutter.

14:55 – QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle

The Scottish Champion Hurdle (14:55) is a repeat for Chesterfield, who running again after winning this last year. In the 2018 version, he is 3lbs lower than when he won in 2017. How I don’t know?

He is in very good form though having won a jumpers flat race at Kempton and finishing fourth at Cheltenham. Nicky Henderson runs three here and Verdana Blue is favourite with James Bowen taking a valuable 3lbs off. The one I like is Claimintakinforgan though.

This horse was fifth in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and was third in last year’s Champion Bumper on decent ground at Cheltenham. He has been crying out for it to dry and he should be there or thereabouts tomorrow. My top three would be Claimintakinforgan, followed by Verdana Blue and Chesterfield.

15:30 – Future Champion Novices’ Chase

This Future Champion Novices’ Chase at 15:30 could suit the horses who have avoided the bad ground. I really like Mia’s Storm on the back of some of her form on a sound surface and I reckon it’s between her and Peregrine Run.

Beware Peregrine Run though as Peter Fahy has placed this horse well and if Mia’s Storm shows any weakness he will take advantage.

16:05 – The Scottish Grand National

Gordon Elliot has Fagan in the Scottish National (16.05) and he’s owned by a prouder Scot than William Wallace in the form of Ronnie Bartlett.

This horse has class form, having been second in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle. He also has Grand National winning jockey Davy Russell on board and that gives him a big chance.

Vicente is trying for his own slice of history and is vying to win this race for the third year in-a-row.

He’s only 4lbs higher than last year and he will love this ground. I believe Sam Twiston-Davies was superb on him last year, but he is not a straightforward horse. The second place in last year’s race Cogry will love the ground too and some horses just love this time of the year.

Sizing Tennessee would have beaten Black Corton at Cheltenham on decent ground earlier this season, only for falling. His trainer Colin Tizzard is in top form and he’ll go well.

Finally, I am a huge fan of Gold Present and it must have been a tough call for connections to pull him out of the Grand National last week.

He will love the ground and the form of his win at Ascot earlier in the season is top drawer. The trip is the obvious worry here, as well as his burst blood vessel at Cheltenham.

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