Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Ayr and Newbury on Saturday. View selections below.
SAM WINNER (3.50) can bag another huge pot for Paul Nicholls by landing the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr. The lightly-raced seven-year-old will strip a relatively fresh horse after a sparing campaign. Sam Winner twice accounted for Le Bec on a sound surface at Cheltenham before the turn of the year and wasn’t disgrace when last seen in the RSA Chase, staying on into fifth place behind O’faolains Boy. With stablemate Tidal Bay standing his ground at the declaration stage (although the old boy may not be risked if the track dries out significantly), Sam Winner races off his correct mark.
My other recommended Scottish National bet is Trustan Times after his tremendous run in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham.
Tim Easterby’s eight-year-old finished fourth to Fingal Bay, just on the heels of subsequent Grand National hero Pineau De Re. That was off a mark of 144 and Trustan Times is well treated here compared to his hurdles rating. Mendip Express is another on my shortlist but Sam Winner appears a stout stayer with a touch of class.
MY TENT OR YOURS (2.40) can thrill racegoers by lifting the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle. The application of a hood adds a touch of intrigue to the contest, as trainer Nicky Henderson tries to unlock the key to headstrong My Tent Or Yours settling better in the early stages of his races. Last year’s winner Court Minstrel carries a 5lb penalty for last Saturday’s Aintree success and is in his element on this better spring ground. He is the each-way alternative if you don’t fancy ploughing in at around evens on the favourite.
THE UNSUB (5.35) boasts winning course form in the bumper and Gordon Elliott’s raider looks sure to benefit for a sounder surface. Alan King’s Miles To Memphis has been well touted, while A P McCoy sports the JP McManus silks again on Nicky Henderson’s four-year-old Saint Charles.
At the other end of the racing spectrum, some Classic hopefuls go on parade in the Aon Greenham Stakes at Newbury and NIGHT OF THUNDER (2.55) left the impression at Goodwood and Doncaster last year that he is potentially high class. The Hannon yard has mopped up this Group 3 prize with the likes of Olympic Glory, Dick Turpin, Paco Boy and Major Cadeaux in the past decade and the yard has hit the ground running in 2014. John Gosden has also made his mark early and Kingman defends his unbeaten record.
The Newbury Spring Cup always presents punters with a conundrum – do they stick with Lincoln form or look elsewhere? SWEET LIGHTNING (3.30), Gabrial’s Kaka and Ocean Tempest all turn up on the back of excellent runs on Town Moor. It paid to be on the pace at Doncaster’s Lincoln fixture, so past winner Sweet Lightning did well to grab a place having been held up in the rear. Roger Charlton’s lightly-raced So Beloved should also be involved under crack apprentice Oisin Murphy.
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