KEITH Dalgleish is putting the emphasis on quality over quantity as he looks to build on last season’s success.
The Carluke trainer saddled a new Scottish record of 70 winners last term and was presented with a quaich to commemorate his feat by Hamilton Park chief executive Vivien Kyles.
With the new turf season set to get under way at Doncaster on Saturday, Dalgleish is setting his sights high and is hopeful the new additions to his string can make it an even more lucrative campaign..
He said: “It wouldn’t worry me if we had a lower total this time but it would be nice to win a better standard of race and maybe end up winning a bit more prize money too. We’ve got 25 two-year-olds and spent a fair bit on a few of them – who knows where they might end up taking us.
“We’ve got extra boxes and can now cater for 85 horses and there are just over 70 in training at the moment. I’ve around a dozen jumpers among them and they have done pretty well during the winter – Nexius won well at Haydock the other day and he should still be worth following.”
The horse to keep an eye on for the Flat from Dalgleish is once-raced Edgar Balthazar, named after the scheming butler in The Aristocats.
He added: “He’s wintered well and the race he won at Hamilton Park in July is producing strong form. We’re looking forward to running him as he could have tons of improvement to come.”
Phillip Makin, who was riding out at the stable for the first time this week, will share the bulk of the mounts along with Joe Fanning and Tom Eaves.
Yorkshire-based Makin said: “It was a long journey to get here but it’s quite an impressive set up. I sat on a couple of two-year-olds and they seemed quite sharp and well forward. I’ll be popping in when I can and especially when I’m riding in Scotland.”
Meanwhile, The New One will not run at Aintree next month after being ruled out for the rest of the season.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ high-class hurdler is suffering with a spinal issue but will not require an operation. Twiston-Davies said: “He’s not too bad, but we’ve stopped him for the season now. He’s got a ‘kissing spine’ but he’ll be OK in time. He won’t need an operation but we will give him a break.”
The New One was set to defend his title in the Aintree Hurdle at the Crabbie’s Grand National meeting on 9 April after disappointing in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham earlier this month.
Scotland’s richest race meeting has received a major boost with three of the principal races at next month’s Coral Scottish Grand National Festival receiving significant prize-money increases.
The Coral Scottish Grand National on Saturday 18 April itself has a prize fund of £210,000, £10,000 up on 2014, while the highlight of the opening day, Friday 17 April, the Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase not only has Listed status for the first time but also a £15,000 boost with £40,000 now on offer.
The biggest increase comes in the main supporting race on Saturday, the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle which has £100,000 in the pot compared to £70,000 last year. In all there is more than £580,000 to be run for over the 15 races which is sure to attract some top horses from leading yards in the UK and Ireland.
Entries for both the Scottish Grand National and the Scottish Champion Hurdle are due by noon on Tuesday 31 March. Scotland’s leading hope in the big race is the Lucinda Russell-trained Lie Forrit while the Ayr executive hope Irish training legend Willie Mullins will have a few entries for the meeting.
Advance ticket sales are going well and discounts are available on tickets booked and paid for seven or more days in advance.
• For further information or to book tickets call 01292 264179 or go online at www.ayr-racecourse.co.uk
2.30 Might Bite
3.40 Morning Reggie
4.10 Miles to Memphis (nap)
4.45 Rocky Bender
5.20 Java Rose
1.50 Bond Blade
2.20 Excellent George
2.50 Edgar Balthazar
3.25 Moulin Rouge
4.00 Lexington Bay
4.30 Snow Dancer
3.15 Cruising Bye
6.15 One Man Army
6.45 India’s Song
7.15 Harwoods Sta
7.45 Cherry Street
8.15 Retro Valley