As we enter spring and the daffodils begin to bloom, it officially becomes National season in the jump racing calendar — with the Scottish and Irish editions of the race wedged either side of the Grand National itself over the course of the first three weekends of April.
It’s certainly an exciting time for fans of the sport, and if the upcoming Fairyhouse meeting can follow suit to the recent events at Ayr and Aintree, then punters all across the United Kingdom and Ireland will be rubbing their hands in glee.
Of course, the bookies will be hoping for a bit of leeway after the sheer number of favourites that won over the course of the two-day meeting up in Scotland. In total, 12 of the 15 races were won by the market leaders — including Win My Wings’ success in the highlight race.In fact, on what was perhaps the worst day for the bookies so far this season, all seven races on day one’s card were won by the market leaders. So, without further ado, let’s take a look back at what turned out to be a favourite Friday at Ayr…
City Chief – The Future Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
City Chief was well backed in the horse racing tips on the Betfair Blog for the Future Novices’ Handicap Hurdle, and the Nicky Henderson-trained five-year-old prevailed by three quarters of a length clear of Hidden Heroics, who he headed in the final 110 yards.
Thunder Rock – Novices’ Hurdle
A mistake two out wasn’t enough to stop 2/1 favourite Thunder Rock from winning the Novices’ Hurdle. Pushed along after the penultimate hurdle, the Olly Murphy-trained horse went clear approaching the last and pushed on to a huge seven-and-a-half-length victory.
Platinumcard – Handicap Hurdle
Gordon Elliott got off the mark in the following Handicap Hurdle, with Platinumcard winning the two-mile race from 2/1. Not fluent two out, the seven-year-old was pushed along to challenge before the last and kept on in the run-in to beat Soft Risk by little more than a length.
Beakstown – Handicap Chase
The Skelton brothers, trainer Dan and jockey Harry, gained access to the Ayr winners’ enclosure next. Beakstown (9/4F) went clear two out and a good jump at the last meant the nine-year-old was always going to have enough to seal the victory.
Get A Tonic – Mares’ Handicap Hurdle
The Skelton’s didn’t stop there though, with 5/2 favourite Get A Tonic securing the brothers their second successive victory in the Mares’ Handicap Hurdle. Shaken up to lead approaching the last, the six-year-old kept on strongly on the run-in to beat Motown Maggie, who didn’t have the pace to challenge.
Dubai Days – Scotland Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase
The only odds-on winner of the day, Dubai Days won the Scotland Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase from 4/6. It wasn’t the most fluent of runs from the eight-year-old, with a few mistakes over the 12 fences, but he won going away, to beat Dino Velvet by three lengths.
Stringtoyourbow – Handicap Hurdle
From the shortest-price winner to the longest now, Stringtoyourbow landed a victory in the concluding Handicap Hurdle for Christian Williams — who would later win the Scottish National with Win My Wings. The 3/1 shot went clear before the last and there was no catching the five-year-old as he pulled further ahead of Colonel Manderson on the run-in.