By Conor Phillips
One of Scotland’s most prestigious sporting events will head Saturdays busy day of racing, the Scottish Grand National at Ayr.
Auroras Encore will be the horse on the mind of most racing fans after bolting to a surprise victory in the Aintree Grand National earlier this month. The 11-year-old will team up with Ryan Mania for the first time since the victory but there are questions as to whether last year’s runner-up can deal with the 11lb rise he has been handed for his emphatic win, which is why he is likely to go off at around 14-1.
Rival D’Estruval leads the betting for the race at 7-1. The 8-year-old staying chaser teams up with last year’s winning jockey Timmy Murphy and excusing his recent fall at Cheltenham, previous form this season looks certain to put him in strong contention.
Midlands National winner Big Occasion and 8-year-old Monsieur Cadou are the others favoured to run well, both of whom won impressively last time out. Donald McCain’s Our Mick is the pick of the outsiders whilst Fill The Power and Rebeccas Choice represent good value for money.
There are seven other races due to go ahead at Ayr and the Novice Chase and Champion Hurdle never fail to attract superior chasers. Tap Night and Rajdhani Express both look in fine shape to compete for the Novice Chase, whilst there are high hopes for Sametegal in the Champion Hurdle.
The New to Racing, Spring Trials Day from Newbury looks certain to be a highly competitive meeting and has attracted some of the best Group 3 horses in the UK & Ireland. Noble Mission and Guarantee look strong contenders for the 1.50 and the impressive Educate looks favourite to score in the 1m, Berry Bros & Rudd Magnum Spring Cup Handicap.
The unbeaten Rosdhu Queen has looked superb over both 5f and 6f and is highly regarded going into the 7f Dubai Duty Free Stakes. Richard Hughes is due to mount Olympic Glory once again in the Aon Greenham Stakes and will be hoping to continue his fine unbeaten run on the 3-year-old colt.
Bangor-on-Dee is sure to offer some decent racing, and 5-year-old Diamond King is one to keep an eye on in the 4.50, after a hugely impressive, debut victory last time out at Wetherby. Witness in Court is another of McCain’s horses who catches the eye in the 1.55.
Tramore is the only other jumps meeting due to go ahead as we step vastly into the flat season, and the seven listed races look likely to pose an exciting meeting. Coolnagorna Giggs should give a good account in the 3.35.
Action from Naas will start at 2.15, and trainer A P O’Brien will be hoping his recent run of success can continue. King Of The Romans and Fortify look the best of his horses and both are in with a chance.
The final meeting of the day comes from Thirsk, and the evening meetings at Nottingham and Wolverhampton go ahead at 5.30 and 6.15 respectively.
For latest odds visit: Horse Racing odds