Chelmsford may have stepped in to save Newbury’s trials card from being lost to the weather, but north of the border a more compelling tale is unfolding.
At the time of writing, Willie Mullins leads Paul Nicholls in the British Jumps Trainers’ Championship by £152,472 and 87p of prize money.
Both handlers head to Ayr hell bent on adding to their hauls and news.ladbrokes foresee the former making strides in one of the day’s big races.
Ayr 2:25 – Bristol De Mai to win @ 1/1
Second in the JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on his previous start, eyebrows will be raised if Nigel Twiston-Davies doesn’t go off odds on here.
Otago Trail finished 42 lengths in arrears when the pair met in January, while Killala Quay has never scored in five runs on soft going.
Henryville looks his chief rival at the weights, but that one is regarded as a future Galway Plate type and is another that needs better ground to be seen at his best.
Ayr 3:00 – Ivan Grozny to win @ 4/1
Mullins six-year-old beat the now 160-rated hurdler Kitten Rock as a juvenile and bounced back to that kind of form in landing an Aintree handicap last time.
Cruising home by an eased down 8l off a hefty 11st 9lbs, a 5lb penalty looks a very lenient punishment for that win.
Grand-National-winning jockey Danny Mullins is in the plate once again and claims a handy 3lb to further enhance the claims of his mount.
Ayr 3:35 – Grey Gold to win @ 4/1
Kerry Lee has already hovered up a commendable six Graded prizes since taking over the license at the Bell House from her father Richard last summer.
During this glittering spell she’s shown a particular aptitude for readying one for big soft-ground handicap chases, landing the Welsh Grand National, the Classic Chase at Warwick and Haydock’s Grand National Trial.
This should be well within the remit of her Grey Gold who gave Whispering Harry 24lbs and a beating off top weight at Newbury in November.
The same opponent got within two lengths of Collin Tizzard’s runner Ultragold last time out.
Both the latter and Paul Nicholls Solar Impulse won with plenty in reserve in their most recent races, but need good ground to be seen at their best.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.