ITV Racing tips: Master v apprentice, Nicholls and Skelton vie for Scottish Grand National honours
There is a different look to the traditional terrestrial TV schedule as the Saturday features are shifted to Sunday, a one-off change to avoid a clash with the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.
So if you happen to tune into the ITV channels on Saturday afternoon, prepare for hours of royal coverage on ITV or Sherlock Holmes and The Magnificent Seven Ride on ITV4.
The 24-hour delay could be well worth the wait with ten races set to be crowbarred into a three and quarter hour slot on the main channel, culminating in one of the biggest betting events of the year, the Coral Scottish Grand National.
Eight days after the Grand National, 23 horses will do battle over 4m for a prize for which Ladbrokes Trophy runner-up Aye Right leads the challenge to record a Scottish win.
Flat fans are accommodated too with the Newbury meeting also pushed onto Sunday. This features two Classic trials in the Greenham for colts and Fred Darling for fillies.
It all unfolds from 13:45pm on ITV and we have previewed the three most significant races of the day in our ITV Racing tips.
A big field for a race better known as the Fred Darling Stakes which is headed by Alcohol Free, who is a 14/1 chance with Ladbrokes for the 1,000 Guineas.
She has earned that position having won the Cheveley Park Stakes last year and on her return meets Umm Kulthum, Happy Romance and Dandalla, who were third, fourth and fifth in the Newmarket Group 1.
Sacred, who was last of eight in the Cheveley Park, franked the form by winning the Nell Gwyn this week. It may be better to look elsewhere for the potential winner.
Lucid Dreamer won both her starts last year, including over course and distance in the race stablemate Quadrilateral, who went onto finish third in the 2020 1,000 Guineas, won the year before. This is a much bigger test but one she could be equal to.
The Greenham Stakes has been the step to stardom for numerous colts over the years, notably Frankel ten years ago. But it has also been a launchpad for the likes of Kingman, Muhaarar, Barney Roy and Mohaather, and this year’s edition could be no different.
Mohaather’s trainer Marcus Tregoning tries again with Alkumait, who like last year’s stable star is a son of Showcasing. He won the Mill Reef Stakes on the track last year but finished well beaten in the Dewhurst, when the soft ground was given as an excuse.
Chindit finished in front of him at Newmarket, but hung through the race, and would be better judged on his previous Champagne Stakes victory. There are 12 runners but the race should be between these two.
Another marathon event that can prove as much a head scratcher as the Grand National.
Coming as it does at the end of the jumps season, it can prove one race too many for some. Plus there will be plenty whose best form is on slower ground than they are likely to encounter at Ayr.
Local Scottish runners are proving popular with punters as Aye Right, trained Roxburghshire, and Dingo Dollar, from Berwickshire, are first and second favourites. And another Scottish challenger Lake View Lad comes here from Aintree, where he fell at the first in the Grand National.
But the prize could head south again to either Soldier Of Love, trained by Paul Nicholls, or Oldgrangewood, from the stable of Dan Skelton.
The novice Soldier Of Love won four times between July and September, then finished second behind Galvin, who went on to win the National Hunt Chase at the Festival, before pulling up on his next start on soft ground in November. He has not raced since but is clearly best on the type of ground he is likely to encounter at Ayr.
Nicholls has won this race three times while former assistant Dan Skelton has yet to strike. He may not have to wait too long and Ladbrokes ambassador Skelton has selected Oldgrangewood for the challenge.
As with most of these there is an element of guesswork as to whether he will last four miles but Oldgrangewood has shown plenty of class in the past and is not one to be dismissed lightly at an each way price.
ITV Racing Schedule, Sunday 18th April
13:00 Newbury – 3yo Maiden
13:15 Ayr – Handicap Chase
13:35 Newbury – Maiden Stakes
13:50 Ayr – Novices’ Champion Handicap Chase
14:10 Newbury – Fred Darling Stakes
14:25 Ayr – Scottish Champion Hurdle
14:45 Newbury – Greenham Stakes
15:00 Ayr – Future Champion Novices’ Chase
15:20 Newbury – Spring Cup
15:35 Ayr – Scottish Grand National
All odds and markets are correct as of the date of publishing.