RACING AHEAD with Tony McCormick

Racing Ahead

Racing Ahead

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Racing pundit Tony McCormick from www.irishbigracetrends.com beforetheoff.com and racing radio station racingfm.com looks at ahead to the weekends racing with The Scottish Grand National at Ayr.

Last year’s Scottish Grand National winner, Al Co, has been handed a chance to defend his crown on Saturday.

The 10-year-old unseated his rider at the first fence in Saturday’s Grand National and avoided any injury or great exertions in the world famous race.

He was a fancied 18-1 chance but was hampered at the first obstacle which resulted in him unshipping jockey Denis O’Regan. He continued to jump fences with relish as a loose horse and is reported to be none the worse for his first experience of the race.

Twelve months ago, the 10-year-old caused a 40-1 shock when winning the Scottish equivalent off a feather weight of 10 stone, beating 2013 winner Godsmejudge into second, and although he will carry 7lb more in Saturday’s renewal, it looks well within his compass, especially if he gets his favoured good ground.

Other than jinking just yards from the finish line, Al Co put in a superb trouble-free display in Scotland’s biggest steeplechase. He travelled well throughout for what was his first try at anything further than three miles and saw plenty of daylight, which is his preference. Indeed, he looks to stay every yard of the 4 miles 110 yards trip and is usually a sound jumper.

Roger Charlton is gearing up Captain Cat for a tilt at the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on May 16.

The Beckhampton trainer is hoping the dual Group Three winner can pick up some of the valuable prize money on offer in the Group One over the straight mile.

Charlton admits things went wrong for Captain Cat, winner of the Ladbrokes All-Weather Mile Championship at Lingfield in 2014, at the end of last year.

Tony McCoy looks set to partner Mr Mole in the race named in his honour on the final day of the season at Sandown on Saturday week.

The 19-times champion jockey will have his final rides before calling it a day at the Esher venue and champion trainer Paul Nicholls is keen to see him partner Mr Mole, the horse who he steered to victory on the day he announced his retirement at Newbury in February, in the AP McCoy Celebration Chase.

The afternoon promises to be an emotional one for McCoy as he collects his 20th title before bringing his glittering career to an end.

Writing on his website, Nicholls said: “I am trying to ensure that Mr Mole is on song to give AP McCoy a cracking ride in the Celebration Chase at Sandown on his final day as a jockey on April 25.”

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