Al CO put down a long-term marker for next year’s Crabbie’s Grand National with a superb win at the Scottish version on Saturday.
Peter Bowen is dreaming of Aintree glory next spring after the nine-year-old landed a shock 40-1 triumph in the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr.
Jamie Moore, fresh from his win on Sire De Grugy in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham, steered the outsider to a famous victory – but had a scare on the run-in when his mount spooked and jinked to his right.
However, the partnership was soon back intact to record a length and a half verdict over last year’s winner Godsmejudge (16-1), with Trustan Times (10-1) just a neck back in third and Merry King (50-1) fourth.
Pembrokeshire-based Bowen said: “He’ll be aimed at the Crabbie’s Grand National next season. That’s the long-term plan.
“This race has always been the plan and he runs well fresh.
“He saw plenty of daylight today and that’s how he enjoys it. He got the front too soon, but there was nothing he could do about it and I have a lot of faith in Jamie.
“He was in the best form we’ve ever had him.”
The veteran Tidal Bay finished seventh after his early exit from the Grand National a week earlier.
Paul Nicholls revealed there were no plans to retire the 13-year-old just yet.
“There had been talk of Tidal Bay retiring, but he will definitely stay in training next season, as long as he is fit and well,” he said.
“He has run a good race, the ground was probably just against him a bit, Sam (Twiston-Davies) said, but he has come back safe and sound.
“We will give him a nice break, and bring him back next season, possibly starting over hurdles at Wetherby.”
It was a big day, too, for Greystoke trainer Nicky Richards who sent out Eduard to brush aside hot favourite Valdez in the Arcadia Consulting William Dickie & Mary Robertson Future Champion Novices’ Chase under Brian Harding.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked of him and I wasn’t surprised at the way he’s won today,” said Richards.
“Next season we may give him a run in a little race, possibly at Carlisle, and then perhaps have a run in the Old Roan at Aintree, but we will have to see how we go along.”
But it was not such a good trip to Scotland for Nicky Henderson as, despite the application of a hood, Champion Hurdle runner-up My Tent Or Yours (even-money favourite) again failed to help himself in finishing only third under a huge weight in the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle, a limited handicap won by John Quinn’s smart mare Cockney Sparrow.
There was also top-class Flat action on Saturday, with Kingman producing a sizzling performance to rocket to Qipco 2000 Guineas favouritism.
The Aon Greenham Stakes was only his trial race but such was the immaculate return of Kingman at Newbury that bookmakers were forced into a complete overhaul of the betting for the first colts’ Classic, with the John Gosden colt usurping the much-vaunted Australia.
The son of Invincible Spirit had been under the microscope ever since his striking debut on Newmarket’s July course, some of which could be related to him carrying the colours of Khalid Abdullah, whose Frankel emerged from hibernation in the 2011 Greenham.
Kingman had been James Doyle’s first pressurised assignment after signing as the owner’s retained jockey in the Solario Stakes, and there were echoes of Abdullah’s modern-day great as he streaked clear of Night Of Thunder in the final furlong.
He is 7-4 favourite for the Guineas with Ladbrokes.
“We came here for a trial and he has passed his trial well,” said Gosden, who saddled seven winners at the two-day Newbury fixture.
“I was really happy with how he settled, and we were thrilled with how he picked up.
“Without doubt he has the highest cruising speed of any horse I’ve trained over this trip – seven furlongs and a mile.”
Brian Meehan has a decision to make as to which 1000 Guineas will be the aim for his Dubai Duty Free Stakes winner J Wonder.
Although she lost her unbeaten record in the Lowther Stakes, Jimmy Fortune’s mount was well-backed into 4-1 and showed a ready turn of foot to quicken up from a steady pace set by Valonia.
Frankie Dettori whacked his whip on a rail afterwards in mock anger, but was indicating a point that 11-4 favourite Al Thakhira could well have won on another occasion after she closed to finish just a head in arrears, with Frankel’s half-sister Joyeuse closing nicely for third.
Meehan said: “I’m really pleased as she has proved to be the filly we thought she was. Jimmy Fortune said she won easily and just needed one slap to keep her mind on the job. She’s in the French and English Guineas and I’ll have to speak to the owner.”