It’s a Saturday at that precariously balanced time in the calendar when there’s a bit of something for everyone, as National Hunt devotees get their fill at Ayr on Scottish National day, while at Newbury there could be Classic clues on display for Flat fans as the likes of Kingman, Night Of Thunder and Berkshire strut their stuff in the Greenham Stakes, a mouthwatering Group 3 that features runners holding a total of 15 future Group 1 entries between them!
Throw in seven races live on Channel 4, plus a monster £2.25m Scoop6 and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an entertaining spring Saturday afternoon.
I’ll be stationed in the Ayr betting ring trying my best to fathom a tricky looking 30-runner Scottish National, and with funds to play up from last Saturday – despite his undoubted quirks – I’m definitely keen to have a few quid each way on Cheshire trainer Will Kinsey’s Old Vic gelding Alpha Victor.
Traveling like the winner turning for home in the Midlands National four Saturday’s ago, he was eventually worried out of it and finished a highly respectable second behind the talented Goulanes in a race that David Pipe targets with surgical precision, but event then pilot Peter Buchanan was quick to suggest he might have produced him a wee bit later given the opportunity to play his trump card again.
It seems to be a combination of Kinsey’s less well known operation and Alpha Victor’s two refusals to race that have clouded the picture, but it’s worth remembering that on the twice he has consented to race over the larger obstacles this horse has been second at Uttoxeter in a major staying handicap, and on the other occasion lead a rout of his four opponents in a novice chase at Sedgefield in January.
He has also recently struck at Bangor over hurdles, and with stamina guaranteed and underfoot conditions likely to be perfect, Alpha Victor looks highly tempting from just two pounds out of the weights on a mark of 138.
With Buchanan claimed to ride Green Flag it’s Dougie Costello who takes over for the first time, and as long as he can get him to play ball at the start then there’s no way this horse should be 28/1.
Unexposed and improving, if you omit his refusals you can say he has highly promising form from just two starts over fences, plus was/is a highly capable hurdler.
As for the likeable Kinsey, he was assistant to Donald McCain for a period and more than knows the time of day.
Granted Alpha Victor comes with risks attached, but the 28′s each way with BetVictor is nonetheless tempting about an assured stayer with a featherweight in a wide open betting heat, especially with the Gibraltar based firm offering five places on the race.
Elsewhere on the card, Alan King’s Manyriverstorcross has been thriving of late and can take the listed two mile handicap chase at 3.15pm.
A winner of his first and fifth starts over fences (the latter was last time out at Ascot 13 days ago), in between times he has been highly tried, finishing behind the likes of star names Hinterland and Oscar Whisky in Grade 1 Novice Chases, but this looks far more realistic as he continues to improve.
King had an Aintree to remember with three winners on the board, and another Saturday success could well be on the way here.
Saturday’s best bets at Ayr:
3.50 – Coral Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase – 15 Alpha Victor (each way) @ 28/1 (BetVictor)