Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Ayr, Newbury and Thirsk on Saturday. View selections below.
OUR MICK (3.50) won’t mind the testing ground at Ayr and looks sure to play a prominent role in the Coral Scottish National. Donald McCain’s chaser has built up a solid fan base on the back of some sterling performances at Cheltenham and he ran another cracker at last month’s festival, finding only Golden Chieftain too smart in the JLT Speciality Handicap. Horses can often get detached fairly easily in the Scottish National and Our Mick’s aggressive style of racing will be well suited to the track, especially if the grey can slip into an efficient jumping rhythm from flagfall. Our Mick scored on heavy ground at Haydock as a novice chaser and he may have the measure of likely favourite Rival d’Estruval, so unlucky in the four-mile National Hunt Chase when falling two out. Monsieur Cadou is another on my radar but the deep ground will be of no benefit to Aintree hero Auroras Encore, bidding to go one better than 12 months ago in this race and trying to become the first horse since Red Rum in 1974 to complete the Liverpool/Ayr National double.
The Flat season finally ignited at this week’s superb and informative Craven meeting at Newmarket, and the Greenham Stakes at Newbury looks a straight match between Olympic Glory and Moohaajim. This traditional 2000 Guineas trial has cut up badly and is one to watch in my book, but Frankel’s full-brother NOBLE MISSION (1.50) is well worth an interest in the 1m 5f John Porter Stakes. Sir Henry Cecil has been quick out of the blocks and his four-year-old, winner of the Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, showed a liking for the course last year when easily winning his maiden on soft ground.
The Newbury Spring Cup isn’t so straightforward with the placed Lincoln horses all turning up for another bite at a big handicap. GLOBAL VILLAGE (2.20) was pipped by Levitate at Doncaster but having run so well in this event last year, Brian Ellison’s charge gets the nod with Kieren Fallon booked. Global Village was shuffled to the rear in last year’s Spring Cup but eventually weaved his way through into third. Winner Captain Bertie would be a big threat if returning to that form but was a huge disappointment in the Lincoln when drifting ominously in the market.
Cecil and Tom Queally team up later on the card with SQUIRE OSBALDESTON (4.40) and the three-year-old has reportedly progressed from his debut third at Newmarket last August. One gallop-watcher was singing his praises earlier this week.
Kevin Ryan and Philip Makin may be the double-act to follow at Thirsk. SARANDAPALUS (2.15) will strip fitter for his run behind useful Sandy Lane at Catterick 10 days ago and scored over course and distance in September (runner-up on his only other run at Thirsk). PINTURA (5.10) bowed out last season with an excellent fourth to Gordon Lord Byron in a Group 1 contest at Longchamp and will take all the beating in the Conditions event if straight enough for his initial outing.
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