Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with five to follow on Saturday at Ayr and Newbury. View selections below
Soft but drying ground the order of the day at Ayr for the Scottish National which is not ideal for Auroras Encore, who is bidding to become the first horse since the great Red Rum back in 1974 to land the Aintree/Scottish National double for Sue and Harvey Smith. I made the presentation to the connections of the progressive stayer Monsieur Cadou (3.50) when he won at Haydock last time, and felt the better ground helped the Tom George inmate. He has winning form on soft ground but with no further rain forecast he is taken to score; Rival D’Estruval would be a threat if the ground dried out considerably and a similar comment applies to Always Right third in the corresponding race two years ago.
Reaping The Reward (1.30) is a fascinating runner in the opening Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle coming back from a 600-day absence for Raymond Anderson Green who loves to have winners at this two-day meeting. The market may give us a significant clue as to his well-being but he has bits of form going back which suggest he is on a very fair mark and the drying ground will help.
At Newbury Frankel’s brother Noble Mission (1.50) will be tough to beat on his reappearance with the Sir Henry Cecil yard among the winners at Newmarket earlier in the week; the selection made a winning 3-y-old debut at this corresponding meeting last year and it is thought that he could improve again this term.
The Spring Cup looks a tricky puzzle to solve but the pin has come down on Roger Charlton’s Border Legend (2.20) for a Royal success; lightly-raced the selection sneaks into the race near the foot of the weights and Hayley Turner takes the mount as regular pilot James Doyle can’t do 8st 4lbs. Charlton and Turner teamed up in the same race back in 2010 when Brunston caused a 40/1 shock but at 10/1 with betvictor.com he can reward each way support.
There must be doubts about the ability of unbeaten Rosdhu Queen to get 7f and Maureen (2.55) gets the nod in the Fred Darling; the filly wasn’t at her best in the Cheveley Park last time, but had looked very good in the Princess Margaret at Ascot previously and deserves another chance. She is currently 33s for the 1000 Guineas at BetVictor with Rosdhu Queen 20s for the first fillies’ classic of the season.
The Hannon/Hughes combination will be fancied to win both Guineas Trials with Olympic Glory strongly fancied in the Greenham Stakes but I prefer, in what looks a match, Moohaajim (20/1 for the Guineas at BetVictor) who won the Gp 2 Middle Park at Newbury as a juvenile and is the subject of favourable reports from trainer Marco Botti in the lead up to what promises to be a most informative Guineas Trial.
There is a jumps card at Newcastle on Sunday and, as long as the ground is no worse than good, I am keen on the chances of Beneficial Reform (4.05) although trainer James Ewart’s last couple of runners, at the time of writing, have been pulled up.