Scottish Grand National: McCoy to partner Benvolio

AP McCoy: Will ride Benvolio. Picture: Getty
AP McCoy: Will ride Benvolio. Picture: Getty
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TONY McCoy’s last ride in the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr Racecourse on Saturday will be on the Paul Nicholls trained Benvolio.

The champion jockey and champion trainer will team up in a bid to emulate McCoy’s only win in the race back in 1997 on Nicholls’s Belmont King.

The two-day Coral Scottish Grand National Festival begins on Friday when the feature race is the Listed Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase.

Saturday’s card features the £210,000 Coral Scottish Grand National and the £100,000 QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle.

It will be McCoy’s farewell to Ayr as he will retire at Sandown on 25 April. Other jockey bookings in the big race include young Sean Bowen on last year’s winner Al Co, Sam Twiston-Davies on the other Paul Nicholls-trained horse Sam Winner, Tom Scudamore on Broadway Buffalo and Wayne Hutchinson on Sego Success.

Meanwhile, ante-post favourite Found is one of the star names among 59 entries for the Investec Oaks at Epsom on 5 June. Aidan O’Brien’s stoutly-bred daughter of Galileo won twice from three starts as a juvenile and ended her campaign with victory in the Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp in October.

The master of Ballydoyle has saddled four previous winners of the mile-and-a-half Classic and Found is just one of 11 possible challengers this time, with Fillies’ Mile heroine Together Forever, Qualify and Words also in contention. Other notables among the 20 Irish-trained entries include Edward Lynam’s Agnes Stewart and the Jessica Harrington-trained Jack Naylor, while five possible French representatives are headed by the Andre Fabre-trained Al Naamah.

Another from across the Channel is Little Nightingale. The three-year-old looked the part on her seasonal reappearance at Maisons-Laffitte at the start of the month and could be a first Oaks runner for Mikel Delzangles, who won the 2,000 Guineas in 2010. The trainer said: “Little Nightingale has come out of Maisons-Laffitte very well. It was a good performance because she beat a nice German filly very easily. We thought she was a good filly anyway because she had been working very well going into that race. Little Nightingale will run once more and then we will decide if she goes for the Oaks or to Chantilly for the Prix de Diane (14 June).

Doncaster maiden winner Star Of Seville is the shortest-priced British-trained entry and is one of seven contenders for Newmarket trainer John Gosden, who landed the spoils with Taghrooda in 2014. His septet also includes debut winners Jellicle Bell and Lady Correspondent.

At Newmarket today, French Navy is the one to follow in the Weatherbys General Stud Book Earl of Sefton Stakes on his seasonal return. He usually goes well fresh and, while the seven year old hit the bar in this contest last term, he went on to land a couple of Listed heats as well as a Group Three event at Epsom last June and can make it second-time lucky.