Four Horses for Good Ground on Scottish Grand National Day
Ayr is the feature meeting on Saturday, April 2nd with the track playing host to a competitive eight-race card that centres around the Scottish Grand National. The ground is forecast to be good, with a dry Saturday in prospect, and as such we’ve identified four horses that are expected to thrive in the conditions.
Sebastopol (1.15 Ayr, Scotty Brand Handicap Chase) 9/4
The opening race on Scottish Grand National Day is an extended 2m handicap chase and one unsurprisingly popular with punters is SEBASTOPOL, a gelding who actually took a bumper at this meeting four years ago.
Tom Lacey’s charge racked up a string of seven second-place finishes in 2021 and bounced back from a pair of non-completions to land a handicap chase at Kempton last month.
The addition of a visor appeared to bring about improvement from Sebastopol that day and the headgear is retained this afternoon, whilst an 8lb rise does not look unwarranted considering the manner of Sebastopol’s victory (winner by six and a half lengths barely coming off the bridle).
Connections have reported Sebastopol to be a “top-of-the-ground horse” and after that Kempton victory they claimed, “…he’s ground-dependent – he won’t go at all if there’s much juice in the ground.” The forecast conditions at Ayr should be ideal for Sebastopol therefore.
Milkwood (2.25 Ayr, Coral Scottish Champion Hurdle) 5/1
Neil Mulholland and Sam Twiston-Davies teamed up to land last year’s Scottish Champion Hurdle with MILKWOOD, and that combination is back for a repeat bid twelve months later.
Milkwood built on a County Hurdle third when justifying favouritism in this event, seeing off Anna Bunina – who reopposes this afternoon.
Milkwood went on to finish second in the Galway Hurdle yet hasn’t been seen since finishing a beaten favourite on his chase debut at Uttoxeter back in October. He has a solid record when fresh, however, and will appreciate conditions, with his form figures on genuinely good ground over hurdles currently reading a notable 1312.
Jacamar (3.00 Ayr, Jordan Electrics Ltd Future Champion Novices’ Chase) 6/1
Milton Harris has enjoyed a terrific season and he aims for Grade 2 glory in Saturday’s Future Champion Novices’ Chase with JACAMAR.
This son of Maxios has enjoyed a fine campaign, headlined by a victory at Kempton on King George Day. Jacamar supplemented that when justifying odds of 5/4F to land a four-runner handicap chase at Leicester last month, and although Saturday’s race represents a clear step up from that, Jacamar doesn’t appear to have masses to find on these terms.
Jacamar has won on soft ground in the past, but he appears at his very best when the ground is riding fast, and therefore he’ll be hoping that the ground continues to dry out before Saturday’s contest.
Jersey Bean (3.35 Ayr, Coral Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase) 20/1
Oliver Sherwood’s JERSEY BEAN notched the eighth win of his career when taking an extended 3m4f handicap chase at Haydock back in November, rallying gamely on the run-in having been headed jumping the last.
Stepping up even further in trip looks a likely plus for Jersey Bean on that evidence, and the 9yo was a winner at Cheltenham around this time last year.
Although a 5lb rise for that Haydock victory puts Jersey Bean up to a mark of 140, he’s unexposed over marathon trips such as this and the good ground appears crucial to him, with Oliver Sherwood claiming after Jersey Bean’s Cheltenham success that “…Jersey Bean loves this ground.”
All eight of Jersey Bean’s wins have come with the word good in the going description, and three of his top five RPR’s have come on genuinely good ground, so any further changes to the going description should enhance this 9yos chances.