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Richard Hoiles: My fancy for the Scottish Grand National

19 Apr | BY Richard Hoiles | MIN READ TIME |
Richard Hoiles: My fancy for the Scottish Grand National

The horse racing broadcaster provides one selection for the big race at Ayr on Saturday and four more from around the UK.

Time for a different Grand National this week, with the Scottish version at Ayr following Aintree last weekend. This race would usually provide some respite from the Irish domination of Cheltenham and Aintree, but with I Am Maximus’s victory sending Willie Mullins to the top of the UK Trainers Championship, he has sent over a strong raiding party over the two days.

One of his Aintree winners, Inothewayurthinkin, can provide the clue as to this year’s winner in GIT MAKER / (15:35 Ayr), who chased home that horse in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham. Given Inothewayurthinkin’s victory at Aintree was a Grade 1 and he won at the Festival off 145, Git Maker probably faced a pretty impossible task that day and is just 1lb higher here. He has been brought along steadily this season and looks a nice young stayer in the making. Mullins saddles six, the pick of which could be Macdermott, but his fencing remains a cause for concern.

At the beginning of the card, a strong pace could set things up for a horse that at the time of writing is the complete outsider of the field in TOMMY’S OSCAR / (13:15 Ayr). Sans Bruit will be popular after his Aintree romp, but he faces a lot more pressure on the front end from the likes of Traprain Law and Uncle Phil. This could suit the admirable Tommy’s Oscar, who is back to a mark of 152 – the same as his last career victory at Kelso – and has been a wonderful horse for the Hamiltons.

The main Classic trials at Newmarket this week seemed more to emphasise the chances of those that were not there, rather than those that ran. This was especially true in the Craven, where two horses who had chased home City of Troy in the Dewhurst – Haatem and Eben Shaddam – were first and second. The winner is also a stable companion of Rosallion, and the wellbeing of the Hannon yard was evident all week, so it is the potential clash of City of Troy and Rosallion that whets the appetite rather than the reappearance of anything from this week’s trials.

Having frozen my proverbials off in the commentary box for two days, I can vouch for the fact that Spring has been slow to arrive and the week’s results seemed to confirm that plenty are still hanging on to winter coats and it has been hard to get runners ready for some stables. A string of big-priced winners means it is sensible to tread carefully on the Flat until the patterns on the turf become a little more established.

With that in mind, I will bypass the trials and instead support THUNDER BALL / (15:15 Newbury) in the OLBG Spring Cup. This is often the next port of call for horses that ran in the Lincoln, where Thunder Ball was buffeted by the strong headwind and didn’t last home. The stable have made a good start to the season and, given his fitness is assured, he should be able to see things out to the line this time.

Away from the feature meetings, BALHAMBAR (15:25 Bangor) won well at Ludlow on his handicap debut and looks to have been found a good opportunity to follow up by Harry Derham.


Riders heading for tracks where they historically have a good record. As usual, expressed as Actual Winners/Expected Winners (A/E) ratio.

AYR – Bruce Lynn 17/106, A/E 1.46. Teams up with three for the in-form Nick Alexander team, including half-brothers Ginger Mail (14:25) and Elvis Mail (15:35).

NEWBURY – Hayley Turner 23/203, A/E 1.74. Has just the one ride, City of Gold in the Spring Cup at 15:15.


BERTIE’S BALLET / (16:45 Ayr) had his chance effectively ended time when badly hampered at the first at Kelso last time and did well to make as much ground as he did. This is obviously tough with the Willie Mullins-trained Quai De Bourbon in the field, but he has each-way prospects if the field remains at eight.

You can view the stable as it stands in full here.


Stable Tracker 7/7.93, A/E 0.88

Daily Selections 17/17.25, A/E 0.99

Jockeys For Courses 19/18.84, A/E 1.01

Overall 43/44.02, A/E 0.98

Richard Hoiles

Richard Hoiles

Richard is a horse racing broadcaster and commentator who has been involved in the sport since 1992.

Richard Hoiles

Richard Hoiles

Richard is a horse racing broadcaster and commentator who has been involved in the sport since 1992.