Something in the Ayr
Ayr’s feature race on Saturday comes hard on the heels of the Aintree spectacular, but there is no lack of depth in the pool of staying chasers, and a maximum field has been declared, headed by the classy Sam Winner, whose presence forces several of his rivals to race from out of the handicap proper.
Big weights have been carried to victory at the Scottish Grand National in the past, with Belmont King, Young Kenny and Grey Abbey having humped welter burdens to victory in the last twenty years.
More often than not, however, the featherweights have the edge, and unlike at Aintree, where experience is king, the Scottish National has a habit of falling to a young and progressive stayer, and I’d prefer to look among the relative novices for the winner.
Of the first-season chasers, Broadway Buffalo sits highest up the pecking order, and he had both Sego Success and Cogry behind when runner-up in the 4-mile National Hunt Chase at last month’s Cheltenham Festival.
He’ll be fancied by many to confirm that form, but he did seem to be seen to best effect there, and I reckon both of those who reoppose are capable of reversing form. Alan King has a good recent record in this race, and Sego Success has plenty in common with 2013 winner Godsmejudge.
He was strongly fancied to win at Cheltenham, but seemed unsuited by the unusually pedestrian nature of the race. With a strong pace guaranteed here, he can show himself in a better light, and does make some appeal at around 14/1.
Cogry was one place behind Sego Success at the Festival, and is another who left the impression he didn’t bring his “A” game to the main stage, having impressed in terms of jumping and attitude in winning at Chepstow and Warwick earlier in the spring.
His Chepstow success has been rubber stamped on several occasions since, and he still looks fairly handicapped on the bare form. Always well-regarded in the Twiston-Davies camp, he’s open to plenty of further improvement over fences, and remains well treated despite a subsequent 7-lb rise for that initial success.
He showed he stayed further when holding off another highly touted rival at Warwick in February, and is certainly overpriced at 20/1 or thereabouts in this contest.
On the same day that the above trio were competing in the National Hunt Chase, Gallant Oscar was finishing a highly creditable third to The Druids Nephew in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap, and that piece of form is perhaps the most compelling on offer. Tony Martin’s charge now carries the colours of JP McManus.
There is no doubt that he gets in here off a workable mark, and his yard is in fine form, but his Leinster National win came over 3 miles, and he’s not sure to appreciate this marathon trip.
On the other hand, he kept on stoutly enough at Prestbury Park, and seemed to find the quicker ground a positive, having done almost all his racing in Ireland on soft or heavy going.
Another novice to consider is Drop Out Joe, who chased home a rejuvenated Wayward Prince in Doncaster’s Grimthorpe Chase most recently.
Charlie Longsdon’s 7-y-o kept on stoutly at Town Moor, and gives the impression he will relish the longer trip, while he’s another to have produced his best form on top of the ground. He’s one of those who is wrong at the weights, but that’s only a minor concern, and he is worth a saver at forecast odds.
Of the others, Lie Forrit would be a very popular winner, but he’s not been hiding his light under a bushel, and Lucinda Russell isn’t finishing the season in the same form she started 2015 in.
Sam Winner can sulk if unable to find his own rhythm, and that looks unlikely in such a big field, while Catching On is one of several who would have made much more appeal on soft or heavy going.
Goonyella had a hard race when winning the Midlands National last month, as did runner-up Raz de Maree, and it’s asking plenty of that pair to back those efforts up under much quicker conditions.
Alternative: Drop Out Joe