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The seasons collide on Saturday. At Ayr, the Coral Scottish Grand National is the last panel in a triptych of Nationals that started at Fairyhouse in Ireland on Easter Monday, before switching, magnificently, to Aintree last Saturday. On the Flat at Newbury, the Lane’s End Greenham Stakes promises to be a particularly informative trial for the 2,000 Guineas in a fortnight’s time.
In Scotland, Rambling Minster is the one to back. The Scottish National is a race where it pays to stick to unexposed types. Though nine, this will only be Rambling Minster’s sixth start over fences. He looked ideal for this sort of challenge when winning the Agfa Diamond Chase at Sandown on his penultimate start.
Rambling Minster then ran indifferently at Cheltenham last time but had excuses. He hit the first in the William Hill Handicap and then got hampered badly when trying to get into the race. It is telling that connections have chosen to run him here rather than go back to Sandown for the Betfred Gold Cup next week.
At Newbury, the Greenham is at the mercy of Dutch Art. Trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam won the 2,000 Guineas with Rodrigo De Triano in 1992 and there are plenty of bullish noises emanating from the stable about the chances of Dutch Art notching the double. Breeding suggests a mile at HQ may prove tricky, but we will know more after Saturday. Seven furlongs at Newbury should certainly be within the compass of this undoubtedly talented horse.
Earlier on Ayr’s card, Altilhar is an each-way fancy in the Samsung Electronics Scottish Champion Hurdle. Lightly weighted horses have a good record in this race and he has acquitted himself well against the very best of the juvenile division this season.
Ayr 2:55 Altilhar (each-way)
Ayr 3:35 Rambling Minster (win)
Newbury 3:55 Dutch Art (win)