Rory Delargy looks ahead to Sunday's Coral Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase at Ayr with a full guide to the runners.
Lake View Lad – He’s had a couple of unfortunate experiences in the last two Grand Nationals, and his win at Aintree in December came when many of the fences were bypassed, so probably flatters him to some degree.
Aye Right – A model of consistency for Harriet Graham, he’s made the frame in the three ultra-competitive handicap chases since his third in the Grade 2 Charlie Hall. Shapes as if worth a try over a marathon trip, and likely to put everything in again.
Truckers Lodge – Shot up the weights after winning the Midlands National a year ago, and while not disgraced when seventh in the latest running of that race, he still looks a shade high in the handicap.
Takingrisks – Didn’t take a cut at Aintree’s fences last weekend, but a previous winner of this race, and looked as good as ever when beating Aye Right in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster in January. Chance if his Grand National exertions haven’t left a mark.
Vintage Clouds – Turned the clock back when winning Ultima at Cheltenham last time by 5½ lengths from Happygolucky. Runner-up scored in a Grade 3 handicap last weekend at Aintree, so the form is solid, and he has run well to
Sam’s Adventure – Gained second win of the season when landing the Eider at Newcastle last time, so stamina no issue, but would prefer the rain to arrive given how well he copes with the mud.
Notachance – Valid excuses when going lame in the Grand National Trial at Haydock last time, and progressive prior to that, producing his best effort when landing the 3m5f Classic Chase at Warwick in January. Trainer will have had this race in mind for some time, and one to take seriously.
Dingo Dollar – Ran well at this meeting as a novice, but ended his time with Alan King out of sorts. Immediately revived by switch to Sandy Thompson and fitting of a tongue tie when winning at Newcastle, however, and remains on a handy mark. Has the right run style for this test, and very interesting.
Highland Hunter – Unexposed as a chaser having had first run over fences in January, and matched previous form when a close fifth in the Midlands National last time. That was his first try at a marathon trip, and he can only improve for the experience.
Mighty Thunder – Made chasing debut in October, and much improved for the switch, winning three, and running the race of his life when caught close home in the Midlands National. Recent form in the mud, but won his bumper on a lively surface, so ground should be no issue.
Soldier Of Love – Won his first four over fences, and ran well to chase home Galvin at Cheltenham in October. Got bogged down in deep ground there the following month, and a last-minute withdrawal from the National Hunt Chase last month. Will certainly be fresh enough, for all a 5-month absence asks serious questions of him.
Oldgrangewood – Dual winner at around 2½m last season, and best efforts at around that trip, but stays 3m1f on a flat track. Winless this season, but much better than the result at Cheltenham last month, and could surprise if proving his stamina for this much longer trip.
The Dutchman – Still retains plenty of ability, and jumps well on the whole, but failure to complete on four of his last six starts largely a result of his tendency to belt one for no obvious reason.
Some Chaos – Five chase wins have come on good or yielding ground, the latest at Kelso in October. Beaten in a couple of warm ups over hurdles this spring, but the return to fences could well be a catalyst for a revival, admitting he looks high enough in the handicap.
Eurobot – Gained his only chase win in a Thurles Novice on his return in November. Not yet built on that, albeit highly tried, and a first-fence casualty in the Irish National at Fairyhouse a fortnight ago. Can do better if cutting out the mistakes, but risky for that reason.
The Hollow Ginge – A useful tool over a trip in the mud, with all four wins coming on heavy ground, but his fourth in the Ladbrokes Trophy is his only rateable form in his last five starts, and beginning to run out of excuses.
Big River – Form is patchy, partly due to intermittent heart issues, but good fifth in this race in 2019. Tends to drop the bridle and stay on late these days, which makes life difficult, but on a fair mark if everything drops right.
Chapel Style – Unexposed, having won two of his four chase starts, most recently at Carlisle in February. Let down by jumping when upped in class last year, however, and can’t afford to make errors in a race of this nature.
Claude And Goldie – Kelso specialist who can have his latest run ignored to a degree as his rider lost his irons, and he ought to stay well, but does tend to make mistakes, and a big-field handicap perhaps not the ideal scenario for him.
Coup De Pinceau – Gained final win for Paul Nicholls in September at Perth, and back to winning ways for new yard at Taunton last month under this good value claimer. That was a pretty thin contest, and his mettle will be tested all the more here.
Red Infantry – Had the run of the race when winning the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster two starts back, but just a fair effort at Kelso last time, and the handicapper looks in charge at the moment.
Special Prep – Closely matched with Red Infantry on Grimthorpe form having been beaten a head there after travelling best, but a 4lb rise is harsh enough given that was a sub-standard renewal of the Doncaster race. On the plus side, that was his first chase outing in almost two years, so he should build on it, and will not be inconvenienced if it comes up quick.
The Ferry Master – Won novice handicaps at Kelso and Newcastle in November, and possible to excuse latest run over shorter/on softer ground after a winter break. Can progress further, but this does represent a marked step up in class.
Destinee Royale – All three wins on heavy, but ran up to her very best when edged out by Chef D’Oeuvre in the Tim Molony Chase at Haydock last time. Unlike Tim, sadly, the chase named in his honour is not the classiest, and she needs to step up again.
Enqarde – Just one win from 16 in France, but has trebled his tally since UK debut in November, with wins at up to 3m at Newcastle and Ascot. Didn’t seem to stay 3½m in Grand National Trial at Haydock, but shrewd trainer is persevering, which gives hope.
Cool Mix – Won the Bobby Renton at Wetherby in October, and good third in the Rehearsal Chase on penultimate outing. Better than the bare result after a break at Musselburgh, but barely stays 3m, and stamina a big doubt over this trip.
Chidswell – Not won since the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster two years ago, and although he wasn’t disgraced when fourth in the latest running of that contest, that form still leaves him with a fair amount to find.
Mister Fogpatches – Has a record of one win from 23 starts under NH rules, but he ran one of his better races when fourth to Mitchouka at Leopardstown last month despite a troubled passage. Needs more at this trip, but dangerous to discount.
Chef D’Oeuvre – Best effort this season when rallying to beat Destinee Royale over 3½m at Haydock last time. Stays well, but plies his trade at a lower level as a rule, and held by several of these on Grimthorpe running.
Lord Napier – Connections sprung a surprise in this race with Al Co in 2014, and that horse also arrived here on the back of a poor run over hurdles. This gelding is hard to support on form, but is very well handicapped on his hurdles ability, having finished fifth in the Grade 1 Liverpool Stayers’ Hurdle two years ago.
Dino Boy – Stays well, as he showed when winning the Scottish Borders National at Kelso in December, but beaten 20 lengths by Mighty Thunder in the Edinburgh National last time, when making a series of mistakes. Needs to pick his feet up to figure.
Rain is not due to arrive until Sunday night, but an eye must be kept on the weather with such forecasts open to change. There are plenty to consider, with Alan King’s Notachance easily forgiven his latest effort when found to be lame, while the ex-King runner Dingo Dollar was right back to his best starting out for Sandy Thompson, and had looked an ideal type for this earlier in his career. Mighty Thunder and Highland Hunter are respected on what they showed in the Midlands National, and the slight drop in trip will suit both on that evidence, while the gallant Aye Right is sure to have his supporters again. The one who catches the eye at the bottom of the weights, however, is LORD NAPIER, who represents the same connections as 2014 winner Al Co, and he has an eerily similar profile. Peter Bowen’s charge appears out of form, but looks to have been laid out for the race, and promises to be suited by this first try over a marathon trip.
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