Scottish Grand National: Drying Conditions May Suit Doing Fine6 min read
Today’s Scottish Grand National from Ayr is the big betting race of the day and there is quality and quantity in abundance with Newbury hosting the last two recognised British trials for the first classics of the season at HQ next month.
I have backed Doing Fine (4.05) for the Scottish National earlier in the week when the forecast suggested the west coast of Scotland would have a dry week and I have long thought the Neil Mulholland 10-year-old had a big race in him.
The selection is 12/1 and will be fresher than most having been off the track since finishing a good fourth on ground softer than ideal at Sandown (3m 5f) back in December from a 2lbs higher mark. Noel Fehily takes the ride and I will be disappointed if – granted luck in running – Doing Fine is not in contention carrying just 10st 6lbs.
Queen’s Taste (1953-54-56) was the last horse to win the race three times but Paul Nicholls’ Vicente is chasing a hat-trick in this prestigious Coral’s sponsored event and is only 4lbs higher than when winning the race 12 months ago. There are any number of dangers, however, including Doing Fine’s stablemate The Young Master who ran very well on ground softer than ideal in the Kim Muir last time.
Alan King’s Mia’s Storm (3.30) carries a 5lbs penalty for winning a listed mares contest at Market Rasen back in November and drops back in trip having been campaigned over three miles so far this term. She found the ground too soft at Kempton in the Grade 1 Kauto Star on Boxing Day last time and bypassed both Cheltenham and Aintree to wait for her optimum conditions.
She is only priced at 6/4 which is a bit of a surprise given the quality of opposition, but she is a personal favourite and I feel she might drift slightly between now and post time.
The Scottish Champion Hurdle looks a cracking renewal – our head of trading won’t hear of defeat for Nicky Henderson’s Verdana Blue who has been off the track since being bogged down in the Newbury mud in the Betfair Hurdle back in February. He is 5/1 and must go close but my two against the field are Chesterfield (11/2) and the mare Irish Roe (2.55) with marginal preference for the latter who will love the ground and gets the each way nod at 20/1.
Irish Roe E/W
The market for the Group 3 Greenham Stakes is headed by Expert Eye (3.10) who is on something of a retrieval mission having bombed out in the Dewhurst when being sent off a 4/7 favourite. The selection had looked a top-class juvenile when landing the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood previously and he must be given another chance although he does need to channel his undoubted talent effectively.
Sir Michael Stoute’s colt is 4/5 to win this afternoon and goes into the race 8/1 to land the 2000 Guineas back at Newmarket – the scene of his Dewhurst flop.
I was disappointed – and out of pocket – when Gavota (2.35) was caught close home in the Oh So Sharp Stakes back in October but the winner (Altyn Orda) franked the form when runner up in the Nell Gwyn earlier in the week.
The filly is 7/4 and would be a confident selection were it not for a modest draw out on the wing in stall one. Ryan Moore takes the ride for Roger Charlton who has had a quiet start to the flat season.
Defoe (2.00) was a big disappointment in the St Leger back in September but he is much better than he showed at Doncaster and he can take the John Porter Stakes for Roger Varian whose string were in excellent form at the Craven Meeting.
In the Spring Mile I hope to see Gilgamesh (3.45) make a winning reappearance for George Scott who is a trainer I will be keeping a close eye on this term. The four-year-old won three out of his four starts last term and gave the impression there might be more to come as he is stepped up in trip this year. The selection is 12/1 at BetVictor and is another each way recommendation.