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Ayr

  • 15:25 Coral Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase 4m 110y

  • (Grade 3) £180,000 added 5yo+ 24 ran
  • Winner £102,510 2nd £38,466 3rd £19,260 4th £9,594
  • Going: Good
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 8m 4.10s
  • Off time: 15:26:48

Viking set for Ayr raid

View from connections: Coral Scottish Grand National

Last Updated: 20/04/12 5:56pm

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Harry The Viking: A leading fancy in the Scottish National

Harry The Viking: A leading fancy in the Scottish National

Harry The Viking, co-owned by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, is a leading contender in the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr on Saturday.

After completing a four-timer that included wins over Ikorodu Road and subsequent Aintree scorer Saint Are at Doncaster, he was second to Teaforthree in the Diamond Jubilee National Hunt Chase over four miles at the Cheltenham Festival.

"He's a confirmed stayer and he ran really well at Cheltenham. There's a nice break between Cheltenham and here and obviously if you stay the trip you have a live chance," said trainer Paul Nicholls's assistant Dan Skelton.

Another plus is that stable jockey Ruby Walsh teams up with the seven-year-old for the first time.

"He's a hold-up horse, so Ruby's style of riding should technically suit him," Skelton went on.

"It's very competitive. There are a lot of horses in there with a good shout and he's one of them."

Dual Winner

Merigo attempts to become the first horse since Androma in 1985 to win the contest twice when he lines-up for the Ayr showpiece.

While Androma was landing back-to-back triumphs, Merigo will bid to regain his crown having finished second to Beshabar 12 months ago following his win in 2010.

The 11-year-old has a tremendous record on this track with four victories, the latest coming over three miles and a furlong six weeks ago.

"What you see is what you get with him. He's the same old Merigo and hopefully he's going to run a big race," said trainer Andrew Parker.

"He's a year older now, but he seems in as good a form as ever.

"Last year he was running from out of the handicap and officially off a mark of 142. This year he gets into the race proper and he runs off 134, so that's a positive.

"He takes his chance again and if he runs his race great, if he doesn't, then he doesn't owe anybody anything.

"He's a funny horse as sometimes you think he wants better ground, but then he has handled soft as well. I think the main thing with him is getting into a rhythm early.

"All in all he's won four times from seven starts at Ayr and he has been placed the other three times.

"He's not been a fast horse and he's no superstar, but he's won the best part of a quarter of a million pounds and he's done us proud."

Looks A Picture

Portrait King showed an extreme test of stamina held no fears for him when rallying on the run-in under a powerful Denis O'Regan to snatch victory from Posh Bird in the Eider Chase at Newcastle in February.

"He's travelled well and he seems in good form with himself," said County Kildare trainer Maurice Phelan.

"He's had eight weeks since Newcastle so he's coming here a fresh horse and I think the ground will be in his favour.

"It was a choice between this and the Irish Grand National and we decided to come here for the longer trip.

"He's gone up in the weights again, but I think he's still improving and he gets into the race with a nice racing weight.

"Fingers crossed he runs a big race."
Improving Ikorodu

Matt Sheppard believes the step up to four miles could bring out more improvement in Ikorodu Road, who followed up his narrow win over Junior at Doncaster with a clear-cut success over Ouzbeck at Newbury.

"I've been very pleased with his preparation since Newbury. I'm very confident that four miles and one furlong will be is trip," he told At The Races.

"We've never had to go that far with him before but he's got to be in with a live shout.

"We are still unproven over four miles so I think we are ahead of the handicapper for the trip we are going to go over."

Knockara Beau was a respectable sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and his trainer George Charlton is expecting another sound performance.

"He's very well, we're looking forward to running him and we think he'll stay the four miles. Everything seems to be in good order," said the Northumberland trainer.

"He ran a nice race to get sixth in the Gold Cup. He got in the prize money which was the plan. I thought he might have got a bit closer, but it was good enough.

"They will be going a couple of gears slower than in the Gold Cup. I'm hoping he'll tick away in the early stages, then get in the race and have plenty left at the finish.

"He's got a lowish weight and I'm glad that David Pipe's horse (Junior) is running now at the top of the handicap."

Good Show

Connections of dual course winner Garleton feel the 11-year-old can put up a good show.

"Maurice (Barnes) won the race (on Quick Reply in 1972) when he was riding, so he knows what type of horse is needed," said the trainer's wife, Ann.

"We hope he runs well. Alexander (Voy) rides him well and we just have to hope he can run a good race and come back safe and sound to fight another day."Any Currency goes for glory north of the border after just failing to make the cut for the John Smith's Grand National.

Martin Keighley's nine-year-old was first reserve for Aintree last Saturday but did not get to take his chance.

"He's in great form and goes there a fresh horse whereas a lot of the others have had a busy time," said Keighley.

"He's in great nick, I couldn't be happier with him and he'll love the four miles. I'd be hopeful of a big run.

"This race was always the fall back if he didn't get in at Aintree."

Getting Fruity

Gary Moore expects Fruity O'Rooney to run his usual solid race after he put up a typically game performance to finish second behind Alfie Sherrin at the Cheltenham Festival.

"He ran a great race at Cheltenham and he seems happier going left-handed which is why we have taken this race in," said the West Sussex trainer.

"We could have gone back there the other day but this is a fantastic pot and I'm highly-delighted to see Junior runs to keep the weights down.

"He's got a nice racing weight, although he's running off his highest mark ever. He's a horse you can never rule out.

"He's got a massive heart and always runs a good race. We'll ride him accordingly over a longer trip."

Unchartered Territory

The extra distance is also unchartered territory for Walkon, but his trainer Alan King is keen to give the RSA Chase fifth the opportunity to prove his stamina.

"We are obviously going into the unknown trip-wise, but we have always thought that Walkon wanted a step up in distance, so it is worth a try," the Barbury Castle-based handler told www.alankingracing.co.uk.

"He ran well for a long way at Cheltenham, and he came out of that race fine."

Junior Delight

Junior has to lump top weight of 11st 12lb just a week after coming a cropper at the second fence in the John Smith's Grand National.

"He seems to have come out of it fine and Tom (Scudamore) schooled on Thursday morning, so we take our chance," said trainer David Pipe.

"He's obviously got a lot of weight, but it's all systems go."

Connections of Benny Be Good are pleased to see Junior take his chance and are happy that the handicapper has lowered the Keith Reveley-trained nine-year-old in the ratings recently.

"I hope he's got a good chance. He's quite a big price in the betting, but this has been his target for a long time," the trainer's son and jockey, James Reveley, told At The Races.

"I'm quite happy the handicapper has dropped him a few pounds for his last two runs. He ran well, but he was struggling to compete a little bit off that mark. Hopefully he's dropped to a winnable mark.

"At least he's not got top weight. We were hoping something would stop in and I'm glad Junior's stayed in to keep the weight down a bit for him."

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