• Thu 20 Jul, 2017
  • 17:47 BST
  • 13:47 EST (BST-4)
  • 19:47 CEST (BST+2)

Five to follow on Saturday

Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Ayr and Newbury on Saturday. View selections below.

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HENRI PARRY MORGAN (3.55) can give Peter Bowen his second Coral Scottish Grand National scalp at Ayr.

The Welsh wizard saddled Al Co to cause an upset in 2014 and Henri Parry Morgan has been threatening to win a big pot. His gelding was made favourite for last year’s bet365 Chase at Sandown and was still bang in contention when unseating his rider at the 19th fence.

Henri Parry Morgan is now a stone lower in the handicap and arrives in Scotland from deepest Pembrokeshire on the back of a satisfactory sixth to Sizing Codelco at Aintree. If able to recapture the form of last year’s third in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase when splitting Native River and Blaklion at levels, he would be a serious wager.

Given his chequered form in the jumping department, he doesn’t come without risks but is too well handicapped to ignore in another wide-open renewal.

Bowen also strips Al Co for action in the hope that a return to Ayr will spark an improvement on his latest dismal efforts.

Missed Approach and Arpege D’Arlene finished second and fourth respectively in the National Hunt Chase at the festival, the race contested by Vicente before landing last year’s Scottish Grand National.

Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson remain locked in a dogfight for the trainers’ title, which provides added poignancy to the occasion.

Nicholls is represented by Arpege D’Arlene, Vicente and Vivaldi Collonges, while Henderson relies on Premier Bond, Sugar Baron and Lessons In Milan, three horses which ran very respectable races in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham.

Premier Bond finished third to Domesday Book and ran a belter behind Might Bite in a novices’ chase at Doncaster in December. He is an improving seven-year-old.

Henderson applies first-time cheekpieces to Sugar Baron, a running-on sixth at Cheltenham, while Lessons In Milan could well hit the frame at a loud price if able to build on his eighth at Cheltenham.

Vicente was a first-fence casualty in the big one at Aintree and no horse has landed back-to-back victories in the Scottish Grand National since Androma in the mid-80s. Vicente runs off the same mark as last year.

Vivaldi Collonges seems to come alive at this fixture, landing a handicap hurdle in 2014 and winning over fences last year. His two most recent pulled-up efforts came in the soft behind Definitly Red (Doncaster) and One For Arthur (Warwick), and he could well outrun his big odds now returned to better ground.

Southfield Royale was a casualty in the Kim Muir but would go close if able to repeat his fourth to Minella Rocco in the 2016 National Hunt Chase.

Scotland is still basking in the reflective glory of One For Arthur’s Aintree triumph and the Saltire will be flying high again if Seldom Inn can win for Sandy Thomson. His flashy chestnut is 10lb higher than when thumping Tenor Nivernais in the Kelso mud and Seldom Inn has since been mastered by Yala Enki. His awkward high head carriage isn’t for the purist but the nine-year-old usually travels well through his races.

Others worthy of a second glance are Sue Smith’s Vintage Clouds, an excellent third to Vieux Lion Rouge in Haydock’s Grand National Trial, and Kruzhlinin (sixth in that same event).

With 16 runners declared for the Scottish Champion Hurdle, opportunities abound for each-way betting and I’ll be disappointed not to see WINTER ESCAPE (2.45) in the shake-up.

After mopping up his first three races in maiden/novice company, Winter Escape was made favourite for the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in December.

The soft ground may have contributed to his no-show behind North Hill Harvey and Alan King had no qualms about pitching him into the County Hurdle at the Festival, with Winter Escape producing a sterling effort (fifth) behind Arctic Fire. With luckless Barry Geraghty again sidelined through injury, owner JP McManus has recruited Mark Walsh for the mount.

King also saddles classy Sceau Royal, with Kevin Dowling’s massive 10lb claim an obvious bonus, while recent runaway Aintree winner Chesterfield has definite ew prospects, despite an 11lb rise.

Moyaayed was given his handicap bow in the County Hurdle, doing remarkably well to finish seventh after being hampered. Dan Skelton’s improving five-year-old should get closer to County Hurdle runner-up L’Ami Serge. This ultra-consistent Nicholls runner has to concede lumps of weight all round, having be raised another 3lb, and it will take a Herculean performance to score around this tighter circuit.

The Flat boys will have plenty of fun at Newbury, with MIDTERM (1.55) a strong fancy to continue Sir Michael Stoute’s recent domination of the John Porter Stakes.

The one-time Derby favourite has taken a while to recover from an injury sustained in the Dante at York but he ran some very encouraging races in top company last season. Midterm was roughed off after finishing seventh to Almanzor and Found in the Group 1 Qipco Champion Stakes, and he will find this Group 3 company less demanding.

Dal Harraild enjoyed a fine season for William Haggas but will need to step up on his victory over Barsanti in a Listed event at Newmarket in September. However, he enjoys fast ground and is open to improvement.

Crimean Tatar defends his unbeaten record for Hugo Palmer, although he doesn’t have a lot to spare on form over Chemical Charge and Muntahaa.

Some exciting fillies go to post for the Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes and QUEEN KINDLY (2.30) can keep the Frankel bandwagon rolling along. Richard Fahey trained Queen Kindly to win the Lowther Stakes at York’s Ebor fixture following a third to Brave Anna in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot. The stable has made a sharp start to the season.

John Gosden’s Dabyah won well at Newbury and Newmarket before ending her season with an excellent third to Godolphin’s highly-regarded Wuheida in the Group 1 Marcel Boussac at Chantilly in October. The Gosden yard is also flying and Dabyah is the one to beat.

Outside the big two, Promising has a squeak on her neck second to Kilmah in the Group 3 Prestige Stakes at Goodwood.

The Spring Cup over a straight mile is always a tough nut to crack but GEORGE WILLIAM (3.40) did well to overcome trouble in running to cut down G K Chesterton at Nottingham. Richard Hannon’s gelding also came to hand early last season and is just preferred to Lincoln third Donncha.

Fahey mopped up this nice prize 12 months ago with Gabrial’s Kaka and his Home Cummins is a mare with plenty of form to her name. The five-year-old was pipped by Highland Colori at York in October before running third to Muffri’Ha in a Listed contest at Lingfield. Sammy Jo Bell takes off 3lb.

Joe Fanning is an interesting booking by the Stoute team for their Doncaster maiden winner El Hayem, while possible favourite Chelsea Lad represents the cock-a-hoop Martyn Meade yard on his comeback from a long absence. Ryan Moore gets the leg up.

Storm Ahead hasn’t had a lot of racing but could go well at a nice each-way price.

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