KNOCKARA BEAU (3.25) looks nailed on to run a big race in the Coral Scottish National at Ayr. He has been pitched in at the highest level this season, finishing sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, having warmed-up with a run over hurdles at Kelso, chasing home rising star Simonsig over an inadequate trip. Knockara Beau again acquitted himself with distinction at Cheltenham in late January, running third in the Argento Chase behind Midnight Chase and Tidal Bay. My selection also split Nicky Henderson’s useful Shakalakaboomboom and the Paul Nicholls-trained favourite Mon Parrain at Cheltenham in December, while he ran a cracker as a novice chaser when beaten only a neck by Weird Al.
Merigo kept this prestigious prize on home soil two years ago when thumping Gone To Lunch by nine lengths and Andrew Parker’s Ayr specialist found only Beshabar too good 12 months ago. He looks to have been laid out for this once again. Junior’s participation has ensured no rise in the handicap and that allows Harry The Viking to race off an attractive weight under Ruby Walsh. Part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, Harry The Viking is sure to prove popular with Scots punters. There has been money for Ireland’s Eider Chase winner Portrait King but the gutsy grey could be found out by this step up in class.
On a terrific card at Newbury, FURY (3.45) is fancied to land the Spring Cup. William Haggas’ course winner caught the eye in the William Hill Lincoln at Doncaster, staying on into third place from off the pace on ground that was just on the lively side for him. Any rain at Newbury would be welcome and Kieren Fallon, who boasts an excellent record riding Fury, replaces claimer Adam Beschizza. Captain Bertie was a most unlucky loser on his seasonal debut and will probably be sent off favourite, while Andrew Balding’s Highland Knight should be sharper for his placed effort at Kempton a fortnight ago.
Richard Hannon has made his customary sizzling start and BEST TERMS (2.35), winner of four of her five races last season, will be a warm order for the Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Stakes. Her only defeat came in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket in September when the firm ground probably found her out.
Championship-chasing Fallon heads off to Wolverhampton’s evening meeting for six good rides and it might be worthwhile mixing his mounts in doubles and trebles. The senior rider is always to be feared when booked by gambling owner Willie McKay, so GREYFRIARSCHORISTA (7.15) and VISIONS OF JOHANNA (9.15) catch the eye.
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