Oli Bell's ITV Racing selections for Scottish Grand National day at Ayr

Check out Oli Bell's Yankee for Saturday
Check out Oli Bell's Yankee for Saturday

Fans of both Flat and Jumps racing have plenty to look forward to with ITV on Saturday as we split our attentions between fascinating meetings at Newbury and Ayr.

I’ll be enjoying the action from home this weekend, having entered the boxing ring for a charity bout on Thursday night.

I may have lost the fight, but the support so far for my chosen cause Well Child has been incredible - thanks to everyone who has sponsored me.

There’s still time to donate, with more details of my JustGiving page available on my Twitter profile.

Hot on the heels of the Randox Health Grand National is Saturday's Coral Scottish equivalent - and it is that card at Ayr that catches my eye for this week’s Yankee:

Oli Bell: Saturday Yankee

1.45 Ayr

3
1011-5OR: 147CD
6/1
Last RunWatch last race

2.20 Ayr

4
911-12OR: 143D
4/1
Last RunWatch last race

3.30 Ayr

5
910-12OR: 149BFD
15/8
Last RunWatch last race

4.05 Ayr

2
1011-7OR: 150CD
8/1
Last RunWatch last race


1.45pm - Scotty Brand Handicap Chase, 2m 110y

Click here for full racecard and free video form

It’s not hard to see why Vaniteux has been backed into favourite for the day’s opening race, having won at this course 12 months ago as well as previously proving himself over the same trip.

His runs this season may not have set the world alight, but he has clearly been prepared with this race in the plan, with trainer David Pipe making the effort to send him this far north from Somerset for good reason.

The nine-year-old has genuine ability and looks relatively well handicapped, rated 147. His most recent run came in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham last month so he should be sharp. Although his 14th-placed finish may have disappointed, having to swerve a faller three out means you can probably put a line through that bare form.

Backing the favourite may not be too bold, but Vaniteux is the one for me.

2.20pm - Dawn Homes Novices’ Championship Handicap

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Barney Dwan has done little wrong in my eyes since taking honours at Market Rasen in December, going on to win again next time out at Musselburgh in February.

Owners Paul and Clare Rooney will have been delighted with his fourth in last month’s Close Brothers Handicap Chase in the Festival, where he held off some talented animals to finish behind winner Mister Whitaker and comfortably ahead of Ibis De Rheu.

Noel Fehily is a jockey in form, boasting a 20% strike rate from the past 20 days and will have little qualms in trying to guide his Cheltenham mount to further glory off top weight.

Stepping back up in trip, I think Barney Dwan will be there or thereabouts at a distance he’s won over before.

3.30pm - Jordan Electrics Future Champion Novices’ Chase, 2m 4f 110y

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I’m looking no further than Mia’s Storm in a race where the eight-year-old mare appears to be a class above a lot of her competition.

Alan King’s eight-year-old has an impressive record since January last year, with only a fall at Kempton Park on Boxing Day spoiling an otherwise perfect run of four straight victories.

We haven’t seen her on the racetrack since that tumble so fitness and race sharpness could be a question. But she has class in abundance and I see no reason why she can’t return to the winners’ enclosure in style this weekend.

4.05pm - Coral Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase, 3m 7f 116y

Click here for full racecard and free video form

Previous form in these gruelling races is often crucial and one horse in particular in this field has an exemplary return here.

Vicente just seems to come to life at Ayr and has been worth every inch of his previous two wins to such an extent I’m backing him for a hat-trick.

He’s unlikely to get as much cut in the ground as recent years, but that should matter little, and despite his success he’s just 4lbs higher in the ratings from last year.

Although yet to finish a race in 2018 - he unseated jockey Sam Twiston-Davies in the Welsh National before being pulled up at Haydock - tomorrow is another day and one where the pair just love to shine.


The Opening Show is on ITV4 at 9.30am, before live coverage of five races from Ayr and a further four at Newbury gets under way at 1.30pm on the main channel.

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