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The Scottish Grand National at Ayr is the big betting race of the weekend and Alan King’s Dingo Dollar is the 10/1 joint-favourite at BetVictor with Lucinda Russell’s Big River. Neil Mulholland has had a stop-go season, but he could saddle up to three in the race with The Young Master (20/1) Impulsive Star (also 20/1) and Doing Fine (20/1) entered at the five-day stage. All have leading chances although it doesn’t look as if the latter will get a run as he needs a number of defectors at Thursday’s 48-hour declaration stage.
Billy Roberts (2.00) won a division of the opening mile handicap at Pontefract back in 2017 from a 6lbs higher mark and he should be spot on for a repeat bid having finished runner up on the all-weather returning from a break in February. His draw in stall 10 is less than ideal although when he scored here a couple of years ago he was housed in stall 14.
In the 1st leg of the Stayers’ Series I hope to see a big run from So Near So Farhh (4.00) with Silvestre de Sousa booked for Mick Channon’s four-year-old filly. The selection must put behind a poor run on her final start of 2018 but had looked a most progressive stayer previously. Note her career record at Pontefract is 1-2.
The feature race is the £25,000 10f handicap and Dukhan (4.30) can make a winning reappearance for Hugo Palmer. The four-year-old is 6lbs higher than when winning at Newbury on his final start of 2018 and began last season with an excellent second to Godolphin’s Old Persian who won the Group 1 Sheema Classic at Meydan recently on Dubai World Cup night. James Doyle takes the mount for the first time and a draw in stall 1 is a positive.
Rathbone (5.00) has been gelded since the end of last season and he can finally break his maiden tag at seventh time of asking. The selection finished runner up in 50% of his six starts last term for Kevin Ryan and he is just preferred to Alfred Boucher who may need further this term.
Billy Roberts (2.00) 11/4
So Near So Farhh (4.00) 3/1
Dukhan (4.30) 2/1
Rathbone (5.00) 9/4
In the opener at Southwell and I am going to take a chance on Zolfo (2.20) representing the yard of Jennie Candlish. The selection has not been seen on the track since August but has gone well fresh in the past and the yard – who have been largely out of sorts this season – had a welcome winner at Uttoxeter at the end of March.
Monbeg Gold (3.20) has been off the track since scoring at Exeter under Richard Johnson from a 3lbs lower mark back in November when he gave every impression he would be seen in a better light back on a left-hand track.
Jonjo O’Neill claims 3lbs aboard the lightly-raced 9-year-old who may have most to fear from Rhaegar who has his first start for Olly Murphy this afternoon.
Nachi Falls (4.50) nearly landed a gamble at Taunton last week but was caught close home by a well-handicapped rival. He is taken to go one better for Grand National winning jockey Nigel Hawke who was in the news last week as the man who bought dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll for £10,000 and sold him on to Gigginstown Stud for £80,000 after his first success in a modest 3-y-old Hurdle at Market Rasen.
Zolfo (2.20) 5/1
Monbeg Gold (3.20) 6/4
Nachi Falls (4.50) 5/2