It's Scottish Grand National day at Ayr and with plenty of competitive action that is where we head for Saturday's attempt at the Placepot.
"that form looks rock solid with him and the thriving Ludlow specialist Gorsky Island drawing well clear of a useful field who have won plenty of races between them since."
13:25 - Runswick Royal has been a model of consistency this season and got his reward when winning a listed prize at Kelso last month, he is sure to run his race again and has strong place claims here. Puffin Billy has to defy a lofty mark here but should still be able to make his presence felt if building on a brilliant round of jumping last time out at Ascot, where he beat a useful rival conceding 10lb.
14:00 - A tight race and not one to be too confident in but Top Gamble is best at the weights here and is easily forgiven his performance at Ascot last time out where he suffered from an overly aggressive ride, Richard Johnson should be able to dominate from the front in a more controlled fashion today and he may prove hard to pin back.
14:35 - Sign of A Victory finally gets the same ground he had when winning a competitive Ascot handicap on the bridle in November. With him being pulled out of the Greatwood at a late stage due to the bad ground you get the impression that Nicky Henderson has been more or less forced to run him in unsuitable conditions over the winter for want of any other opportunity and he is expected to be a different horse today. Calipto is also worth giving another go on ground where he has shown the pick of his form including an unlucky fourth in the 2014 Triumph Hurdle. He was poorly placed in the Betfair Hurdle when running a respectable fourth and was then given an impossible task by the starter next time at Sandown when left at the standing start. Provided luck is with him for once today then he is in with an excellent chance.
15:10 - The eye is immediately drawn to Le Bacardy who won this race last year from 5lb lower and has his first start for the thriving Dan Skelton yard in a first time tongue tie today. He is expected to put a few below par performances this season behind him and be competitive once again in a race where few horses seem to have much ability hidden from the handicapper.
15:45 - Novices are the ones to focus on in the Scottish Grand National, and we will be taking three in this highly competitive affair. The first of interest is Royal Player who's first victory over fences came in a strong handicap chase at Ludlow in December, that form looks rock solid with him and the thriving Ludlow specialist Gorsky Island drawing well clear of a useful field who have won plenty of races between them since. He was clearly not right last time out and has been given a break since, he should be competitive. Man With Van is another promising novice who had his prep run for this race in the Ulster National, where he and the heavily unexposed winner drew well clear of a competitive field, he is sure to put up a bold performance once again if seeing out the extra five furlongs. Sego Success will complete our team for this race as he bids to give Alan King a second win in the race after Godsmejudge won the 2013 renewal. Sego Success was well backed in the four miler at the Festival only to see the race turn in to a bit of a sprint finish, which certainly would not have suited him based on his win at Warwick in a stamina sapping race ran at a good gallop. He is expected to get a good pace to aim at this afternoon and that may help him reverse Cheltenham form with Broadway Buffalo.
16:25 - Gilt Shadow reverts from chasing after a break to target this prize on handicap debut. He is well treated off 135 based on his bumper form and his third in a Grade 2 over at Leopardstown last year and should given a good account today. Orsippus has shown little this season but won this race in 2013 and due to his poor form since comes here 7lb lower this time. It is reasonable to think this may have been his target this season after an abortive spell chasing in 2014 and he has definite place claims if a return to this venue can spark a revival.
13:25 - 1, 2
14:00 - 6
14:35 - 4, 6
15:10 - 5
15:45 - 4, 14, 29
16:25 - 2, 7
= 24 lines