• Sat 28 Jan, 2023
  • 00:32 GMT
  • 20:32 ET (GMT-4)
  • 02:32 CET (GMT+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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VINTAGE CLOUDS (3.35) came down at the first fence at Aintree last Saturday but Sue Smith sends him into battle for a third time in the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr.

The Trevor Hemmings-owned gelding ran seventh to Vicente here in 2017 and led for a long way last year before fading into third behind Joe Farrell. His ability to handle the drying ground will stand him in good stead if his jumping holds up. It wouldn’t surprise me to see some of the soft-ground horses pulled out as there has been no rain all week at Ayr.

Beware The Bear beat Vintage Clouds in an exciting finish at Cheltenham last month, but that came on soft, and he is vulnerable under top weight having been pulled up under similar conditions last year.

Dingo Dollar ran second to Crosshue Boy in a novices’ chase here 12 months ago and is better off at the weights. Alan King’s gelding may well go off favourite.

Blue Flight would become only the second six-year-old to win the Scottish Grand National at Ayr. Earth Summit wrote his name in the history books in 1994, coincidentally trained by Blue Flight’s handler Nigel Twiston-Davies, and Scottish-owned Blue Flight has enjoyed a terrific season. He is hardly thrown in at the weights, however, having shot up a stone for beating Black Corton over 3m 2f at Kelso and is probably playing for a place.

Lucinda Russell’s Big River ran on strongly into fourth at Cheltenham but his best form is in the mud. At bigger odds, last year’s fourth Doing Fine has enjoyed a similar preparation and could again hit the frame.

VERDANA BLUE (2.25) relishes decent ground and can defy top weight in the CPMS Scottish Champion Hurdle. It is something of a surprise to see Nicky Henderson employing a 7lb conditional rider but a repeat of Verdana Blue’s victory over Buveur D’air and last weekend’s Aintree winner If The Cap Fits in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton would make him competitive.

Henderson’s stable jockey Nico de Boinville gets the leg up on stablemate Mister Fisher, eighth to Klassical Dream in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, and the five-year-old makes his handicap debut in hot company. The market should provide a clue as to stable expectations.

DEFOE (1.40) spearheads some high-class Flat action at Newbury and is fancied to make it back-to-back wins in this Group 3 contest. Roger Varian’s gelding handles a bit of cut underfoot and came clear of Danehill Kodiac 12 months ago. Young Rascal’s only defeat last season came in the Investec Derby at Epsom and is clearly a dangerous opponent.

BOITRON (2.40) won his first three races for Richard Hannon, including a course and distance verdict over Dutch Treat in August, conceding 5lb to the runner-up. He ended the season with a respectable fourth in a Group 1 at Longchamp and that sets a fairly high standard in the Greenham Stakes.

RIPP ORF (3.15) has a great record on straight courses and shaped well in fifth behind favourite Auxerre in the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster. David Elsworth’s five-year-old loves these big-field cavalry charges and with 27 runners declared, shop around for the best each-way terms.

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