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2017 Scottish Grand National meeting tips - Race-by-race selections for Day One of Ayr's feature fixture

Brian Healy 21 Apr 2017
Ayr host the first day of their two-day Scottish Grand National meeting on Friday.

Brian Healy goes through the day one racecard of Ayr's feature fixture and gives his race-by-race selections.

Friday’s feature meeting comes from Ayr, where day one of the Scottish Grand National fixture goes to post, getting underway at 2.10pm for the first of seven races on a high-quality afternoon.

The Listed Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase is the afternoon’s feature race, and the race which gets underway at 3.50pm has attracted a strong field of runners for the extended 2m 4f contest, including Nicky Henderson’s Theinval.

2:10 Ayrhire Magazine Novices' Hurdle Cl3 (4yo+) 2m4f100y
2:40 QTS Handicap Hurdle Cl3 (4yo+) 2m
3:15 L&M Surveys Novices' Handicap Hurdle Cl3 (4yo+) 3m70y
3:50 Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase (Listed Race) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m4f110y
4:20 Porcelanosa Scotland Chase (A Novices' Limited Handicap) Cl3 (5yo+) 1m7f112y
4:50 Mares' Handicap Hurdle Cl2 (4yo+) 3m70y
5:25 Seko Logistics Scotland Handicap Hurdle Cl3 (4yo+) 3m70y

We go through the day one racecard at the Scottish track, where Brian Healy has selections in every race on a quality afternoon.

2:10 Ayrhire Magazine Novices' Hurdle Cl3 (4yo+) 2m4f100y

BURBANK (Evens, Bet365) created a good impression when scoring impressively on his debut in a Newbury bumper, and although turned over next time on his first start over hurdles he improved for the experience to readily see off Man From Mars at Huntingdon in January.

Nicky Henderson won this contest two years ago with Different Gravey, and the Seven Barrows trainer looks to hold solid claims of landing further success in this race with the Yeats gelding who wasn’t disgraced at Cheltenham last time when fourth to Willougby Court in the Neptune Hurdle.

That form sets a stiff standard, and while he faces a field which contains four last-time winners, he is open to plenty of improvement and could well prove too strong for rivals with the promise of more to come.

Nicky Henderson can have a winner on the Ayr card with Burbank.

2:40 QTS Handicap Hurdle Cl3 (4yo+) 2m

GREAT FIGHTER (7/1, Paddy Power) struggled over longer distances earlier in the season, but the Street Cry gelding seemed appreciative of the lesser trip when posting a solid third behind the high-class Project Bluebook at Musselburgh in January.

Jim Goldie’s charge bettered that run when finishing fourth in Listed company back at that venue next time behind Diego Du Charmil, and he has subsequently acquitted himself well on the flat when finishing sixth to Codeshare at Newcastle.

Back over timber, he should be competitive off this mark with a first-time visor tried in hope the headgear can produce some improvement; while the form of his third behind Project Bluebook has been significantly franked, and he may be underestimated in this contest and could go well at a price with a good 3lbs claimer up.

3:15 L&M Surveys Novices' Handicap Hurdle Cl3 (4yo+) 3m70y

Lightly-raced WINNINGTRY (4/1, Paddy Power) was a debut winner of a Wincanton bumper last April, and Paul Nicholls’ charge has shown progressive form over hurdles this term.

Third to the useful Geordie Des Champs on his hurdles debut at Aintree in November, he went close next time at Taunton where he finished runner-up behind Misterton. A solid third to Tree Of Liberty at Musselburgh in February could well be franked by a big run from Burbank in the opening race, and the Flemensfirth gelding was a winner himself when last seen out scoring at Wincanton from Bellamy.

The Ditcheat runner could well improve for this stiffer test of stamina, and he had a couple of potentially useful sorts behind him when posting that success so it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see him progress again upped in trip.

3:50 Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase (Listed Race) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m4f110y

DRUMLEE SUNSET (15/2, Bet365) scored on his chase debut when beating the smart Aux Ptits Soins at Exeter back in November, having previously won over hurdles at the same venue; and Philip Hobbs’ charge has lost nothing in defeat in a trio of subsequent starts where he has finished runner-up on all three occasions.

Those include last time out at Exeter where he came off worst behind the classy Clan Des Obeaux in March; he jumped left there, so this track may well suit; while it was also his first run for three months, and he possibly wasn’t fully at peak fitness, so he is entitled to come on for the outing and could do better now.

He could well prove the answer to a very tricky puzzle for punters in what looks a cracking contest on paper. 

Drumlee Sunset (left) can score a win at Ayr.

4:20 Porcelanosa Scotland Chase (A Novices' Limited Handicap) Cl3 (5yo+) 1m7f112y

NOMOREBLACKJACK (7/4, Sky Bet) has been progressive for Sue Smith, scoring a pair of progressive wins over further than today’s distance at Catterick in February and March – the latter coming under a penalty; and the Robin Des Pres gelding could land the hat-trick despite dropping back in trip.

He turned in a potent display of jumping from the front last time to run out a ready ten lengths’ winner over Leanna Ban, winning with plenty in hand.

He could still be ahead of the handicapper on that evidence despite being handed a hefty rise for that win; while he faces competition here for the lead, he should continue to go well in pursuit of the hat-trick, and his progressive run of form may not be halted just yet with the stiffer track here potentially helping to offset the lesser distance.

4:50 Mares' Handicap Hurdle Cl2 (4yo+) 3m70y

HAPPY DIVA (8/1, Bet365) has progressed with every run this term since being beaten behind the smart La Bague Au Roi in a Listed contest at Newbury back in November.

Since then, Kerry Lee’s charge won back-to-back races at Fontwell and Wetherby prior to dipping her toes into graded company where she finished a good fourth behind Constantine Bay at Doncaster in January in the River Don Hurdle; and she bettered that effort when finding only Colin’s Sister too strong in the Jane Seymour Hurdle at Sandown next time.

The King’s Theatre mare again hit the crossbar at Doncaster in March, beaten three lengths behind Lastbutnotleast with the pair well clear; but this could be her time with top amateur Richard Patrick taking 7lbs off her back for this latest run.

Trip and ground will prove no issue, and she should give another good account as she bids to resume winning ways.

Kerry Lee can get amongst the winners at Ayr with Happy Diva.

5:25 Seko Logistics Scotland Handicap Hurdle Cl3 (4yo+) 3m70y

LOCHNELL (12/1, Bet365) can usually be relied up to run up to her best, and the consistent Winged Love mare is taken to add to her course tally of four wins. 

Ian Duncan’s charge has only once finished outside the top-three in eight starts this term, stepping up on his seasonal debut to win here in November; and having made the frame in three subsequent starts, she resumed winning ways back here in March with a ready success over Spring Over.

Having again filled the runner-up spot from this mark at Kelso last time, she perhaps just failed to see out that stiffer test, and dropping back slightly in trip she can continue in good form.

All four career wins have come here, and while she would ideally prefer softer ground than she’ll get here, she does handle these conditions. While she probably needs to pull out more if she’s to add a fifth win to her record, her consistent profile should ensure she continues to give a good account and no surprise if she were to get involved again in the finish under Grand National winning rider Derek Fox.


2:10 BURBANK (Evens, Bet365

2:40 GREAT FIGHTER (7/1, Paddy Power

3:15 WINNINGTRY (4/1, Paddy Power

3:50 DRUMLEE SUNSET (15/2, Bet365

4:20 NOMOREBLACKJACK (7/4, Sky Bet

4:50 HAPPY DIVA (8/1, Bet365

5:25 LOCHNELL (12/1, Bet365)

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2017 Scottish Grand National meeting tips - Race-by-race selections for Day One of Ayr's feature fixture

Brian Healy goes through the day one racecard of Ayr's feature fixture and gives his race-by-race selections.

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