It is Scottish Grand National day at Ayr on Saturday and Keith Melrose from the Racing Post picks out his best bets on the card.
Hasankey @ 7/1
Balco Coastal @ 2/1
The 10 runners in the Scotty Brand Handicap Chase include the four finishers from 12 months ago, all of whom bar winner Return Ticket are on higher marks.
It is a significantly weaker race than the Red Rum nine days ago, in which HASANKEY finished fourth and he is fancied to go better at Ayr for Laura Morgan.
Prior to the Red Rum, Hasankey had already shown himself to be in the form of his life. He shaped extremely well at Wetherby in February and then found only Red Rookie too strong in a warm race at Warwick.
He was off the bridle before all of the other principals at Aintree, but stuck on gamely and was only just run out of third.
There remains scope for him to do better still, although he probably only needs to find a small handful of pounds on recent performances to set a high standard here.
The Future Champion Novices' Chase looks an above-average renewal this year. Unlike many good novice chases around 2m4f, it is often won by fast horses trying to stretch out at the end of the season.
You would expect a Grade 2 novice chase in April to be won more often by future stayers.
That would lend weight to Nicky Henderson’s BALCO COASTAL having the upper hand. He is the quickest of these, almost certainly. He has also established himself at this level.
He won very impressively at Kempton on Boxing Day and followed up by proving comfortably best of the British behind Gerri Colombe in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles.
His flop at Cheltenham was in a messy race and he ought to have too much late speed for rivals like Datsalrightgino and Thunder Rock, who are probably 3m horses next season.
If form is the main consideration, then I expect MONBEG GENIUS to go off favourite in the feature Scottish Grand National.
His recent third in the Ultima at the Cheltenham Festival, behind only Grand National winner Corach Rambler and the hugely progressive Fastorslow, is much more convincing than Kitty's Light's workmanlike Eider win, acknowledging that the run to finish second in this race last year would run him close in terms of strong form.
bet365 are also offering six places in the Scottish National, two more than you would expect versus the standard, so it makes sense from a value perspective to include an each-way alternative.
My choice there is LORD ACCORD, who has a lot of the right attributes for this race.
Lord Accord is a second-season chaser who thrives on relatively quick ground. He has been pulled up and last of three on his two runs on soft ground, but otherwise he is three from eight in his chasing career.
He won handsomely at Cheltenham in October and followed up by giving Frodon a fright in the Badger Beer at Wincanton.
He found the race formerly known as the Hennessy a bit hot, and it was probably a bit of an afterthought anyway, and it was soft in the Kim Muir last time.
He should be primed for this and on his autumn form should be more like 10/1 than 33/1.