A busy weekend of horse racing action with the highlight being the Scottish Grand National at Ayr. A competitive undercard includes the Scottish Champion Hurdle with a host of top trainers set to be represented at Scotland’s richest race meeting of the year. The start of the flat season is also hotting up, with Newbury hosting their opening meeting of the season with three Group 3 races on the card.
Weekend Horse Racing Fixtures
After the success of last weekend’s Grand National meeting at Aintree, all eyes will be on Ayr this weekend as they host the Scottish Grand National and the Grade 2 Scottish Champion Hurdle on Saturday.
Newbury’s opening flat meeting of 2016 is this weekend with three Group 3 races the highlight of Saturday’s card. The mile and a half John Porter Stakes is due off at 2.10pm followed by the Fred Darling Stakes at 2.40pm. The Fred Darling is run over a distance of 7 furlongs and is exclusively for fillies, with the race being seen as a trial race for the Fillies Classics such as the 1,000 Guineas. Trainer Ralph Beckett has won the race three times in the last six years and he has another excellent chance of winning the race with his unbeaten filly Nassuvian Pearl.
The Greenham is the final Group 3 contest of the afternoon and like the Fred Darling, it is run over a distance of 7 furlongs, serving as a Classic Trial for colts. The Richard Hannon stable has an excellent record in the race, having saddled the winner four times in the last nine years. Hannon is set to be represented by Log Out Island on Saturday, with the three-year old colt the current 15/8 ante-post favourite for the race.
Bangor hosts its Wrexham Lager Spring Festival on Saturday with a competitive six race card including the £10,000 Wrexham Lager Handicap Chase.
Nottingham host their first flat meeting of the season on Saturday with an exciting seven race card. In recent seasons, trainer Michael Appleby has been the trainer to follow at the Midlands track, returning a £26.63 profit to level stakes on all his runners.
Thirsk also host their opening meeting of the season on Saturday, with a competitive seven race card at the Yorkshire track. Daniel Tudhope has been the jockey to follow at Thirsk recently, showing a hefty £64.48 profit on all his rides in the past five seasons.
Another evening meeting at Wolverhampton with a seven race card on Saturday. The highlight of the card is the Maiden at 7.40pm with leading Newmarket trainers Sir Michael Stoute, Ed Dunlop and Michael Bell set to have runners.
Stratford looks set to race on Heavy ground on Sunday, after heavy downpours throughout the week. The feature race is the Class 3 Confined Handicap Chase, with the winner set to take home over £7,500 in prize money.
It’s Family Raceday at Wetherby on Sunday including The Mascot Gold Cup, the largest organised charity mascot race in the world. On the track, the highlight of their seven race card is the Class 3 Handicap Chase. Trainer Malcolm Jefferson has an excellent strike rate at the track, showing a £43.18 profit to level stakes in recent years.
A seven race card at Wincanton this Sunday with a number of competitive races including the Bath Handicap Chase and the Wincanton Handicap Hurdle.
Sunday’s only flat meeting is at Navan in Ireland with the Listed Salsabil Stakes being the highlight of their seven race card. Two future Group One winners emerged from last year’s race, including the Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Pleascach who finished runner-up behind Bocca Baciait. Eight fillies still hold entries in Sunday’s race as they look to emulate last year’s field.
Weekend Racing Highlight – The Scottish Grand National
The Scottish Grand National is the betting highlight of the weekend’s racing and with thirty runners set to go to post another competitive renewal is on the cards. The race has not been kind to punters in recent years, throwing up winners at 66/1, 40/1 33/1 and 25/1 and a favourite has not won the race in over ten years. This year’s current 9/1 ante-post favourite is the Willie Mullins trained Measureofmydreams who comes into the race on the back of a strong third place running in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last month. Victory for the horse would in all likelihood give Willie Mullins his first ever British National Hunt Trainers title, an unlikely success for the Irish trainer.
Cause of Causes missed the cut for last weekend’s Aintree Grand National and he is the current 10/1 ante-post second favourite. Top weight for Saturday’s race, Cause of Causes has gone up to a mark of 152 following his success in last month’s Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival. Owned by legendary Irish gambler JP McManus, any cash for the Gordon Elliott trained horse could be significant.
Pineau De Re also missed the cut at Aintree, despite having won the Grand National in 2014. Having been aimed at Liverpool, the detour up to Ayr is very much an afterthought but off a mark of 141, he could be set to run a big race under jockey Nico De Boinville.
Mouse Morris enjoyed success with Rule The World in last Saturday’s Grand National and he is set to run Rogue Angel as he hunts down a unique treble of Grand National winners. Rogue Angel was successful in last month’s Irish Grand National and success on Saturday would see Morris become the first trainer ever to train the winner of all three Grand National’s in the same season.
Welsh trainer Peter Bowen trained Al Co to success in the 2014 race and he is represented this year with Berea Boru who comes into the race on the back of three successive victories in handicap chases. A revised mark of 138 may not put an end to Berea Boru’s excellent form and at 33/1, he could well run into a place.
By: Scott McGlynn