The Scottish Grand National (3.35) at Ayr today holds centre stage, and there are two stand out bets in this DINGO DOLLAR and CROSSHUE BOY who ironically crossed swords at this meeting last year.
On that occasion Irish raider Crosshue Boy, in receipt of 10 lbs. proved best, while Dingo Dollar ran a cracker in second. Alan King's horse jumped superbly throughout, and he again showed his slickness at skipping over fences when third in the Ladbrokes Trophy (formerly the Hennessy) at Newbury in December.
He got tired late there over the 3 miles 2 furs. trip on ground a lot stickier than he liked, and this race has been his target ever since. King says: "Being A Scot this race is always close to my heart, and I was lucky enough to win it in 2013 with Goldsmejudge who was also ridden by Wayne Hutchinson. Dingo Dollar ran very well when a gallant third in the Ladbrokes on ground that would have been about as testing as he can handle and goes to Ayr in great form."
Dingo Dollar warmed up for this nicely when second to Chidswell - who reposes today - at Doncaster in early March, giving away lumps of weight, and King will have him cherry ripe today. Happily the handicapper has left him on 148 and he is on a nice weight of 10 - 13. The step up in trip and good ground are all in his favour.
Old foe Crosshue Boy has been the gamble of the race, steadily backed all week from 20/1 to half those odds now. He loves good ground and is a very quick and fluent jumper when on his game. He quickened up well when beating Dingo Dollar in the novice chase at this meeting last year and if handling the longer trip he's a very strong contender.
His trainer Sean Doyle is better known as a point to point trainer and why not, as Topofthegame, Monbeg Dude and The Worlds End are just some of the big names he has trained at the famous Monbeg Stables. The Aintree Grand National had understandably crossed his mind with Crosshue Boy and he ran in the Becher Chase over the famous Aintree circuit in December.
He finished a distant tenth to Walk In The Mill, and when his jockey that day David Mullins reported to Doyle that the horse did not enjoy the National fences today's race immediately became the obvious target. The booking of Sean Flanagan - in red hot form for his boss Noel Meade right now - is a real bonus.
Crosshue has been kept in trim, while protecting his handicap mark over fences, by running in two hurdle races at his local track Wexford. Proven on both track and ground he looks a serious player and some of the heavy hitters in Ireland who have been lumping on at juicy prices during the week certainly know the time of day.
As we might expect in a race like this there are many with realistic chances, like Vintage Clouds whose very early fall at Aintree could prove a blessing in disguise for today. Big River, course winner Geronimo and an old friend of ours Carole's Destrier are others to keep in mind. Hard to believe that Nicky Henderson has never won a Grand National in any country, but, despite top weight, Cheltenham winner Beware The Bear cannot be lightly dismissed here.
Yet Dingo Dollar and Crosshue Boy make most appeal and should give us a cracking run for our money.
1/2 Point Each Way Dingo Dollar (10/1 generally, use bookies paying 6 places)
1/2 Point Each Way Crosshue Boy (11/1 Coral paying 6 places)
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