THE stiff spring breezes currently sweeping the UK can have a huge impact on underfoot conditions, as was perfectly illustrated at Aintree on Saturday.
The track was riding soft on Thursday’s opening day following steady rain which sparked a rush to back dour stayers for the Grand National.
I fell into that trap and it backfired quite spectacularly come 5.15 yesterday, with magnificent Tiger Roll clocking a time three seconds faster than average. Soft ground specialists were simply run off their feet, with most wisely pulled up after halfway. It was a salutary lesson and one which won’t be repeated ahead of Saturday’s Scottish Grand National. The Met Office predicts no rain all week, so it can fairly safely be assumed the track will be riding pretty quick.
That puts horses like Verdana Blue on our radar for the Scottish Champion Hurdle, while Theinval was another pulled out late at Aintree on Thursday due to the rain. He often runs on both Friday and Saturday at this meeting if the ground is good, so expect a double dunt for Sandy Orr’s chaser.
In the Scottish National, ante-post favourite Dingo Dollar ran well under a big weight in the novices’ handicap chase at this fixture last year (good) and Alan King’s seven-year-old ran well in his warm-up race at Doncaster.
The track has been drying out at Kelso ahead of today’s meeting but Nick Alexander’s ELVIS MAIL romped home by 13 lengths on similar ground in December and his third here to Rouge Vif is head and shoulders above anything his 11 rivals have produced. He’s one to put in doubles and tebles.
Alexander will have been relieved to get Lake View Lad back home in one piece after his abortive Grand National attempt on ground that was much too lively for him, but conditions should be okay for his Kelso regular LANDECKER. He can be a law unto himself but was on best behaviour when landing a gamble here over 3m 1f in January, backing up a creditable second to Dimple over today’s 2m 6f distance. The trainer also saddles Benny’s Secret, a talented but oh so frustrating.
THE ROAD HOME ran well behind Sporting Press and King Golan at Musselburgh (good) to merit a small investment in a difficult 2m 5f handicap chase.
VALADOM underwent a wind operation before reappearing at Newbury and performed with credit in fourth. He likes to bowl along in front. Charlie Longsdon’s top weight Midnight Shot scored at Fakenham on good ground last October, while Kim Bailey’s retains the visor which Another Venture wore for the first time when scoring at Plumpton last time.
SPORTING PRESS is given the opportunity to add to his recent Musselburgh victory by landing the Le Garcon D’Or Handicap Chase under 7lb conditional Billy Garritty. Rebecca Menzies sent out Halcyon Days to finish second in this event 12 months ago (heavy) and the ten-year-old seems in good form. It’s strange to see Le Garcon D’Or, Jack Ormston’s prolific winner and much-loved 5f sprinter on the Scottish circuit when I was a lad, commemorated by a handicap chase!
DESERT ISLAND DUSK could be the answer to a tricky four-runner finale as he has been running consistently well and goes on good ground.
I’m itching to get going on the Flat and DORCHESTER DOM is worth an interest at Windsor after finishing fourth in the Brocklesby at Doncaster’s Lincoln fixture. Third Horse Zulu Dancer hacked up at Leicester last week.
There’s a decent card at Redcar where PRIVATE SECRETARY should hack up. John Gosden’s son of Kingman was twice runner-up at 5-4 favourite last season but may have run into a very smart Godolphin horse in Space Blues at Nottingham. There were five lengths back to third horse Technician, a wide-margin scorer last week and fourth home Smarter won by nine lengths at Southwell on his next run.
ON THE LINE is up 8lb for his very comfortable Lingfield success 17 days ago and Hugo Palmer’s colt has fitness on his side.
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