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Preview 19 Apr 2008

3:40 AYR CORAL SCOTTISH GRAND NATIONAL HANDICAP CHASE GRADE 3 (CLASS 1) (5yo+) Winner 114,020.00 4M 110yds Good to soft

1. Halcon Genelardies - Has helped to give the handicap a tricky look to it with only 3 horses in the handicap and this very talented stayer who stayed on to finish 4th in the Gold Cup is bidding for revenge over Miko De Beauchene. For the narrow defeat of top weight in the Welsh National. Stays the trip under the weight well and for a 8yo he isn't the most overburdened with racing and comes into this race on top of his game and Robert Thornton has stuck by him which is eye catching. Hard task to give weight away to some improvers he may have wanted it softer underfoot then it is likely to be today. Interesting runner with the form in the book.

My rating - 158

2. Miko De Beauchene - Victor over top weight in the Welsh national and has had success since beating Flintoft in battling style at Haydock and then reverted back to hurdles at Cheltenham which he ran well over and has preserved his handicap for this race today in which he needs to find improvement to beat the top weight on these revised terms and could well do so with the 4M expected to suit him more then the top weight. The drying ground wont be to much of a problem having handled it well in the past even though he is often tried more on testing conditions underfoot and it may be more the course that is his undoing as a flat galloping track wouldn't be as perfect as the stiffer more quirky tracks he enjoys his best performances on and is another who could be beaten by a horse out of the handicap that has improvement to come.

My Rating - 161

3. Opera Mundi - Last seen being pulled up in January at Doncaster behind the William Hill handicap winner and the trainer has kept him fresh for this race in mind and he is often best caught on first run back after a absence and has a low weight as the 3rd best rated horse in the race which is a bonus as he doesn't have to run better then his official rating. The ground is ideal underfoot and the win at Haydock earlier in the season has worked out well with some interesting rivals in behind and on his first start over 3M the champion trainer has only left the one horse in this race today so the clues are all there and with improvement expected from this marathon trip he has to be strongly fancied with the course likely to be ideal.

My rating - 164

4. Old Benny - Is likely to get every inch of this staying marathon today having won in good style over 4M around Cheltenham and there should be no problem with him staying the trip today from out of the handicap by 2lbs and is one that should be strongly considered even though the stable jockey has decided to take the ride on the top weight. Richard Johnson takes over from the 7lbs claimer who has got a ride in this race and our Benny is still looking handicapped to go well at this level in my view and the ground shouldn't slow him up and is very lightly raced. Trevor Hemmings chasers are always interesting in staying chases.

My Rating - 162

5. Patsy Hall - Travelled like a dream in the William Hill Handicap before failing to muster enough speed going up the hill and should appreciate this step up to four miles given how strongly he travelled in a championship race and side stepped the grand national fences for another year of chasing under his belt and Paul Carberry should look after him today in this race which he is expected to improve in. The ground is ideal for a horse that has placed in a grade 1 race and given he is just out of the handicap he is looking well handicapped for this big prize today and could well take this race for Tony Martin who isn't a stranger for pulling of a handicap blot. Has fairly decent form this time of year as well and hasn't got to many miles on the clock for a type to win this race.

My rating - 166

6. Wild Cane Ridge - Still in with a chance being just 3lbs out of the handicap as the top ones in the handicap could be handicapped up to the hilt and Lenny Lungo is always a trainer to never discount on the northern circuit and his Wild Cane Ridge isn't the most straight forward of horses but has got a touch of class about him, even though he is yet to really show it at this level. Has been campaigned over hurdles this season since pulling up behind Opera Mundi his mark has been left intact with maybe this in mind and if jumping round with a low weight he may improve on his only other attempt over 3M. Ground should be ideal and he often saves his best runs for this track.

My rating - 159

7. Mon Mome - A lot of peoples fancy in the Grand National and stayed on to finish a remote 10/40 and comes into this race 6lbs out of the handicap today and also wrong at the weights with Patsy Hall on the Cheltenham festival run. Stays this trip well and have plenty of miles on the clock so unlikely to find improvement, which he may well, need to land this handicap today. The tacky drying ground isn't likely to be ideal either and his Welsh National form from two years ago may have given him strong claims but he isn't as good as he was then and is on the downgrade and likely to struggle from out of the handicap.

My rating - 151

8. Kilbeggan Blade - Needs to improve on the runs he has put up this season with him being 6lbs out of the handicap, which is likely to be enough to have him up against it today. The drying ground the trip and the flat track should suit him and he could easily run a place from out of the handicap with this trip very much likely to improve his making, if he can put a decent round of jumping he could well have a chance as he is prone to the odd mistake.

My rating - 153

9. Flintoff - Was a leading hope for this handicap until the top weight was left in and now has a tougher task of reversing the form with Miko De Beauchene who I believed he should have passed at Haydock last time. Suited to these conditions underfoot and stays over 3M+ well he is a stone wrong at the weights with his Haydock victor and that looks enough even though the stable are flying at present. Half a stone out of the handicap and quite exposed he may struggle to reverse the form this time around despite having much in favour.

My Rating - 160

10. Openide - Ran on strongly at the Cheltenham festival a track that he often runs his best races at and he is certainly a horse that could do well with this step up in trip given the way he stuck on over 3M 2F on a stiff track. Stiffer tracks ahs been a major benefit to this horse so the flat nature of this track might well be a negative on his bid for winning a race at this level despite the fact he handles the ground and has the recent form in the book to overcome the weight out of the handicap and has many miles on the clock.

My rating - 154

11. Philson Run - A very lightly raced stayer for his age having had only 17 runs for a 12yo in which he has had a unlucky run so far this season since finishing 2nd in the Warwick staying handicap to course specialist D'Argent. Stays well as proven when finishing 4th in the grand national just over 12 months ago and is much better when the ground is on the testing side and with it drying out he may struggle on the tacky conditions it is likely to be underfoot. The fact that this handicap has a classy rival in Halcon Generlardies in means it is likely to be tougher to win then the Grand National at Aintree where he was in the handicap and this results as much tougher even though he does stay the trip well.

My rating - 156

12. Tommy Spar - Another who has been around the block a few times and doesn't look your typical Scottish National winning type as he is really exposed as a handicapper and from out of the weights is likely to Marjory struggle against the more classier rivals. The trip isn't likely to suit him and the ground is against him, he needs to find some form and looks like one making up the numbers in this handicap.

My Rating - 133

13. Ossmoses - Looked a stayer with a future last season and has campaigned very lightly so far this campaign with just the one prep run at Newbury in a exposed handicap. Soft ground has been ideal for this horse and with the ground not as testing as expected he may get a little outpaced in what will be a strongly contested handicap ran at a good pace. Stay well and suited to a flat galloping track he has often ran good races this time of year and is very lightly raced which is always a plus in staying races such as this. Out of the handicap by a massive 11lbs doesn't overly help his cause but he could go well.

My Rating - 155

14. Irish Wolf - Surprisingly it is his first attempt over 3M having been campaigned over that distance highly as a hurdler and is yet to rediscover the form he showed over the small jumps over fences. This season hasn't been a brilliant time for the trainer and his Irish Wolf is one of the most exposed highly tried runners in the race, which isn't ideal. Potentially well handicapped on the best of his hurdle form, if he could finally transfer that form to jumps he could well be able to land a big race handicap such as this, but needs to improve on the form he has been showing.

My Rating - 152

15. Leading Man - Always highly thought off by Ferdy Murphy and co and has yet to really prove himself as a top handicapper despite often being expected too. The trainer is always one to keep on the right side off around this time of year and he has a good record in this race in which he guided Hot Weld and Joes Edge to much success in this race. Double handed in this handicap its hard to know which horse is his first string with both out of the handicap and the claimer may well have been used to counter the weight out of the handicap.

My rating - 151

16. Noir Et Vert - ran a cracker at the festival behind High Chimes in which he is better weighted with the second based on and is the more light campaigned of the Ferdy Murphy pair to have a chance in this race. Looks likely to enjoy these kind of trips given the way he shaped he has been paired with a 7lbs claimer to try and offset the weight he is out of the handicap. That could be a major boost for this horse that is likely to improve for these races and has a very solid record this time of year. Drying ground is a big bonus to this horse even if it isn't likely to be quick enough by post time and any rain will only dampen his chances. Best on a sharp track, this course is one of the sharper galloping tracks in the country.

My rating - 156

17. Dunbrody Miller - has struggled with the handicapper since landing the Topham handicap chase in 2007 and comes here well out of the handicap and with plenty miles on the clock so far. Would be a massive surprise for him to land this race having shown so little in the way of form in the past 12 months and is very much one on the down grade at the age of 10. Does have form this time of year and stays the trip well he isn't certain to appreciate the conditions of the track today and is best dismissed.

My Rating - 134

18. Royal Rosa - Formly regarded as the best horse Graham Wylie had purchased and never quite managed to live up to the hype surrounding him and is one that is very much out of the handicap in this race despite having achieved some top form in Irish Bumpers when winning at Punchestown back in April 2003. Has never been a horse that has jumped to cleanly in his races he would be regarded as well handicapped in this race if he didn't have fences in the way and those odd blunders he makes seems to make this horse less of a force. The ground today should be ideal with him running some of his best races on tacky ground and stamina wise he has proven that he stays this far before. Lowe weight will help and he has never been one to be overly raced so could still prove to be decent enough to get in the money in this race. Goes well this time of year, but needs to improve on recent form where he was little disappointing in the Eider.

My rating - 157

19. Azulejo - Forget the grade 3 form he showed in France, it doesn't amount to much and is a waste of time in races such as this having been raced in the Topham and Gold Cup this season and deserves to be given a race that he can at least give the trainer a chance of landing a race with him. Discounted from over a stone out of the handicap.

My rating - 118

20. Model Sun - Pulled up latest and stayed on to claim a place in the midlands national the time before Model sun is over a stone out of the handicap but once was a very decent performer maybe with a chance in a race such as this. Plenty of miles on the clock now and very exposed he has no improvement in him and has to prove that these kind of trips will help him pick up races with his stamina not assured yet. Ground should be ok but looks up against it here.

My rating - 146

21. Another Rum - A regular fixture in this race and best chance most probably was two years ago when he came to grief early in the race and maybe will never land this handicap now with classier rivals each year contesting a race that doesn't leave its mark on the winner. Quite lightly campaigned with these races in mind by his trainer a stone out of the handicap is very much lightly to be too much for him to overcome today as he exposed over staying trips and there will be better chances for this horse when his sights are lowered again as he needs to improve on recent form as well.

My rating - 147

22. Iris De Balme - Was a gamble when landing a Folkestone staying race and is very lightly raced for a 8yo in this country. Has improvement still to come this might be beyond him as he takes a big step up in class from out of the handicap. The ground is drying out to his more favoured conditions and he is quite a fresh horse, he may be able to stick around to be on the premises near the finish before the classier rivals put him to the sword.

My rating - 144

23. Strong Resolve - Loves this track but is too old and too heavily campaigned to have any chance of running a big race from this far out of the handicap. Has not achieved anywhere near the form he had showed 12 months earlier where he finished 7th in this race from just out of the handicap. A credit to connections and a grand horse, hopefully he will finish his last Scottish grand national.

My Rating - 137

24. In the Loop - very lightly raced and comes here in good form having beaten Dun Doire with something to spare. The English handicapper couldn't really have got him that wrong on the ratings with him being over 2 stone out of the handicap. Could be better then the current rating given to him with improvement to come he is effective on these type of conditions and ahs form over 3M which is a major plus for the horse. Lightly raced and with a light race he may run a big race, but is too far out of the handicap to seriously be considered even though he isn't the least likeliest victor from over a stone out of the weights.

My Rating - 145

My Tissue - Patsy Hall 6/1, Opera Mundi 13/2, Old Benny 8/1, Miko De Beauchene 9/1, Flintoft 10/1, Wild Cane ridge 12/1, Halcon Generlardies 14/1, Royal Rosa, Philison Run, Noir Et Vert 16/1, Ossmosses, Openide 20/1, Kilbeggan Blade, Irish Wolf, Leading Man, Mon Mome 25/1, Another Rum, Model Sun, In The Loop 33/1, Iris De Balme 40/1, Strong Resolve 50/1, Dunbrody Miller, Tommy Spar 100/1, Azulejo 500/1.

Verdict  Very hard to figure this handicap out with some many out of the handicap here and with the inclusion of the classy stayer Halcon Generlardies in the race who could well set it up nicely for his stable mate Our Benny who is a lightly raced horse in the make up this handicap and is just out of the handicap after landing the 4M at Cheltenham. Opera Mundi is the sole runner for champion trainer Paul Nichols and has been pulled out a few races for this since landing a decent 3M contest at Haydock in the earlier part of the season. The Irish will look to Patsy Hall to land the winning stride in this race and is another who is only just out of the handicap. From way out of the handicap by over the stone Royal Rosa may run a big race while Miko De Beauchene has every chance over this further trip of confirming form with the top weight. Often one of the best handicaps through out the year and one I enjoy more then the English Version, the handicap has been made more tricky with the weights this time around but still there is value to be had and 10-1 Patsy Hall is a good bet I feel along with Opera Mundi at the same price.

Selection  Patsy Hall 2 pts win @ 10-1 (BF10's) & Opera Mundi 1 pt win @ 10-1(BF13's)

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