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How good is Tony McCoy? Most sage judges reckon he is the best jump jockey ever. Regardless of whether he wins Saturday’s Gala Casinos Daily Record Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase on Darkness he is clearly the best of his generation. But the race will be useful benchmark of his skill.

Strictly on the formbook another novice chaser Idle Talk has far better claims. Idle Talk was second in the Royal & Sun Alliance Chase at Cheltenham, while Darkness trailed in eleven lengths distant in third. Worse still for McCoy’s mount, Idle Talk is eight pounds better off. If the form of the Cheltenham race is replicated Darkness should play second fiddle again by at least as wide a margin.

The difference on Saturday is A P McCoy. The champion jockey couldn’t ride Darkness at Cheltenham but has won with him three times this term. If you watched the Royal & Sun you will no doubt have formed the opinion that Darkness cannot jump. But there is no one better at presenting a horse at a fence than McCoy, as he showed only last Sunday when guiding another sketchy jumper, Justified, to victory in Powers Gold Cup.

Novices have a good record in the Scottish National, winning four from the last 14 renewals. Two of those novice winners – Earth Summit and Captain Dibble – were Royal & Sun Alliance also-rans. This is a wide-open race with the maximum of thirty runners and all can be backed at each-way prices, but Darkness (with the peerless McCoy in the plate) might just have that little extra dash of class.

Earlier on Ayr’s card Arcalis looks a solid choice to initiate a big race double for Mc Coy in the Samsung Electronics Scottish Champion Hurdle. A strict reading of his run in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham means he is weighted to confirm superiority over Faasel.

In a poor renewal of the Greenham at Newbury Red Clubs is the obvious choice on his two-year old form.


2:50 Ayr – Arcalis (win)

3:30 Ayr – Darkness (each-way)

3:50 Newbury – Red Clubs (win)

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