Sandy Thomson and Iain Jardine are hoping to keep Scottish trainers in the spotlight at Ayr’s premier jumps meeting of the year on Saturday when they saddle Seldom Inn and Traditional Dancer in the two big races.
Just a fortnight after Kinross-based Lucinda Russell brought off a memorable triumph with One For Arthur in the Grand National at Aintree, Borders trainer Thomson will attempt to land the Coral Scottish Grand National with Seldom Inn.
Impressive conqueror of southern raider Tenor Nivernais at Kelso on his penultimate start in the Listed Premier Chase, Seldom Inn is expected to make a bold bid if his jumping stands the four-mile test.
“If he gets round he'll go very close,” Thomson said. “His Kelso form is very good and he hated the sticky and chewy ground last time. Conditions should be ideal for him on Saturday.”
Dumfries-based Jardine, perhaps best known for his expert handling of Ebor runner-up Shrewd over the last couple of years, has laid out Traditional Dancer for a tilt at the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle following two highly creditable Musselburgh placed efforts this year.
“He's at the right end of the weights and we've prepared him for this race,” Jardine said. “He's a proper two-miler with a high cruising speed and the likely fast gallop will suit him. I think he's tailor-made for the race.”
Noel Fehily has been booked to partner the well-fancied Southfield Royale in the Scottish National.
“The horse seems in good form and you’d think the race would suit him down to the ground,” said trainer Neil Mulholland.
“He's won at Wetherby and Doncaster, which aren’t dissimilar to Ayr, and has always looked the type.”
Aspell on Missed Approach
Vintage Clouds, another prominent in ante-post betting, is unlikely to run if the ground remains similar to Tuesday's description of good to soft, good in places.
“He’s in very good order but is ground dependent,” said trainer Sue Smith. “There's no sign of rain in the forecast and he won’t run unless it's on the soft side. We’ll look to come back and win a nice race with him next season.”
Missed Approach, another towards the front of the market, will be ridden by Leighton Aspell, with regular partner Gavin Sheehan suspended.
“Missed Approach has enjoyed a nice break after Cheltenham and he ticks a lot of the boxes for the race,” said trainer Warren Greatrex.
The Nicky Henderson-trained Premier Bond, 9-1 favourite with the sponsor, is likely to be partnered by David Bass.