Scottish Grand National Day | Time to Rally

Punchestown Festival

Aintree is now firmly in the rearview mirror, and as the 2023/24 National Hunt Season comes to a close, it’s time to take a look at the races on Scottish Grand National Day.

Last week’s Aintree Grand National meeting was successful for the column as we achieved 11.95pts of profit, helping to bring the overall tally since the start of March to 3.35pts of profit.

No doubt, the last few months haven’t reeled in a mountain of success, but let’s hope this run of form can continue.


1:15 Ayr – Persian Time @ 6/1 with BetVictor – 1pt EW

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Sans Bruit did the job for us at Aintree and for that, we can only offer our thanks, but a 10lb hike for the success is steep as he beat horses who were towards the top of their handicap mark after getting an easy lead from the front.

He demands respect, but Persian Time is a horse who might have a few pounds over the handicapper.

The six-year-old has shown his class this season as he’s won twice and finished second once, though that defeat came at the hands of Djelo at Newbury on his first run of the season, and Djelo has since improved 12lbs and won a Grade 2.

Although he benefitted from an Authorised Speed fall at Ascot, Homme Public (the runner-up) won a valuable race on his next start to frank the form

Furthermore, both Djelo and Soul Icon – the horse he beat on his latest start at Kempton when the Nicky Henderson yard was massively out of form – have good form with Master Chewy, a horse who came a head away from beating Found A Fifty in the Grade 1 Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree.

That bodes well for Persian Time, and with his form at the track from last season’s second in a handicap hurdle, he is a nice unexposed type running off 136.


1:50 Ayr – Deeper Blue @ 7/1 with William Hill & Maclaine @ 9/1 with Boylesports – 1pt EW for both

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The £50,000 CPMS Novices’ Champion Handicap Chase has an interesting feel about it this year as the favourite is as big as 13/2.

However, I’m splitting my stakes here as I want both Deeper Blue and Maclaine on my side.

Starting with the former, he represents the on-fire Harry Fry yard (40% strike rate over the last two weeks) and sports first-time cheekpieces, something Fry has a good record with.

The eight-year-old has tended to race a bit behind the bridle this season – so the cheekpieces make sense – but his second to Henry’s Friend when receiving just 1lb looks like good form as the winner won the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase on his next start.

Furthermore, Rock My Way was five lengths behind in third and he ran into Makin’yourmindup on his next start; Makin’yourmindup won after that and then ran into a well-handicapped Cap Du Nord.

Deeper Blue was beaten by a well-handicapped Neon Moon on his last start, but he sprinted well clear of the third and he looks ready to put in another big effort here.

However, a horse that carries eight pounds less is Maclaine, looking to back up from last month’s facile Newbury success.

The improving seven-year-old prefers better ground, but he comes from a family of soft ground lovers, so the described soft ground at Ayr (plus a day of dry weather) should be okay.

The manner of his victory at Newbury was impressive – one of a progressive horse – and he ran into Prairie Wolf at Doncaster in December.

Prairie Wolf has since finished fourth to Ginny’s Destiny at Cheltenham and then won twice more, so the form of that race is solid.


2:05 Newbury – Relief Rally @ 3/1 with BetVictor – 1pt Win

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The big question with Relief Rally in the Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes is whether will she stay seven furlongs, and that’s why her price is probably bigger than it should be.

She was a small two-year-old and showed plenty of speed, but a lot went wrong for her at York on her first start at six furlongs and she had to battle late on to get up by a length.

That showed promise of staying further to my eye, and you don’t have to go that far back through her pedigree to find horses who won over 1m1f and even went two-mile hurdling.

I think this filly by Kodiac is riddled with ability, and although there is doubt over whether she has trained-on to become a proper three-year-old, this is a beatable field on all known pieces of form.


4:10 Ayr – Masaccio @ 10/3 with William Hill – 1pt Win

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Regular watchers of the Only Fools Love Horses YouTube channel will know my confidence behind Masaccio for the 2m4f handicap hurdle at Aintree. Still, as it turns out, it was probably a good idea to skip Aintree.

Connections have swerved Aintree to come to Ayr instead, and they are happy to step him up in trip to three miles.

After his Kempton success, with a wry smile, Alan King suggested during his post-race Racing TV interview that the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle over three miles was under consideration, but with an unchanged mark of 129 after that easy Kempton success, they’ve found a suitable handicap option with him on a potentially better surface than that of Aintree or Kempton.

Welcom To Cartries is a highly-touted horse for Paul Nicholls, but his rating of 130 is one-pound higher than Masaccio’s.

On all-known form, notably when finishing a close second to Jinko Blue (now rated 140) while giving 6lbs away at Newbury, Masaccio should have a higher rating than Welcom To Cartries, but he doesn’t.

On that evidence, he looks like a solid bet at 7/2.

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