Jockey Ruby Walsh can claim a rare treble by winning the Gala Casinos Daily Record Scottish Grand National. After wins in the Welsh and English Nationals, his mount on Saturday Cornish Rebel has equally good credentials. This full brother to Best Mate has had a good season novice chasing, winning three races from five starts.
He was third in the Royal SunAlliance Chase at Cheltenham last time, behind Trabolgan and Comply Or Die. The form of that race looks solid, with fifth home Like-A-Butterfly since winning a Grade 2 at Aintree. Comply Or Die runs again on Saturday and he and Cornish Rebel are handicapped to cross the line together. However, there are reasons to believe that Paul Nicholls’s charge can get the better of Martin Pipe’s runner.
At Cheltenham Cornish Rebel shaped as though an extreme test of stamina would suit. He was slightly outpaced making the turn for home, but finished best of all coming up the hill. Novices have a good recent record in the race, with lack of experience not enough to stop Paris Pike (2000), Earth Summit (1994) or Captain Dibble (1992).
Cornish Rebel has been the subject of some unflattering reviews. He is a tricky customer and does not like to be in front too long. But with more than 20 runners in the field there will be plenty of cover and Ruby Walsh can be relied on to ride a tactically astute race.
Royal Shakespeare is something of a forgotten horse after being well beaten in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. But he has the chance to redeem himself in the Scottish equivalent. He ran well in the spring last year, winning a Grade 2 novice event at Aintree and running Brave Inca a close second at Punchestown. On the flat at Newbury Andronikos should be good enough to take the Lane’s End Greenham Stakes.
2:45 Ayr Royal Shakespeare (win)
3:25 Ayr Cornish Rebel (win)
3:45 Newbury Andronikos (win)