Indian Castle set to be crowned King on Ayr raid
INDIAN CASTLE wins the vote for the yearly head-scratcher that is the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr.
Just a week after the big one at Aintree, staying is again the name of the game for horses neither quite good enough, nor experienced enough, to compete on Merseyside.
As always, the Scottish Grand National is typically ferocious from a punting perspective, with only a few horses ruled out with any degree of conviction.
Currently trading at fair odds is Indian Castle, who comes into this race with little fanfare. This is a shade confusing, as Ian Williams' seven-year-old ran a blinder at the Cheltenham Festival.
Indian Castle finished fourth behind The Druids Nephew in the three-mile-one-furlong handicap chase which is invariably a useful showcase for progressive stayers.
He might also have finished third, too, had he not been pinched for room by Pendra along the run-in.
The horse that did occupy that position was Gallant Oscar, who is shorter in the Scottish National betting than Indian Castle, though admittedly better treated at the weights.
In any event, his run at the Festival was by far his best effort since having transferred to Williams from Donald McCain, for whom he archived some sound novice form against some very good horses.
It also undermined the once-held assumption he needs a quagmire to be fully effective. Whether he gets the trip is open to debate, but most of his rivals are in the same boat, with everything he has hitherto achieved on a racecourse suggesting he could be tailor-made to go the distance.
AYR: 1.25 Oscar Fortune, 2.00 Court Minstrel, 2.35 Bertimont, 3.10 Strongpoint, 3.45 INDIAN CASTLE (NAP), 4.25 Upsilon Bleu, 4.55 Lightentertainment, 5.30 William Henry.
BANGOR: 1.50 Berea Venture, 2.25 Galactic Power, 3.00 Handsome Dan, 3.35 Hollow Tree, 4.10 Bearly Legal, 4.45 Ami Desbois.
NAVAN: 2.20 Roryslittlesister, 2.55 Bebhinn, 3.30 Bocca Baciata, 4.05 Acid, 4.40 Madeira Classic, 5.10 Alertness, 5.45 Cenotaph.
NEWBURY: 1.15 Viewpoint, 1.45 Romsdal, 2.15 Tiggy Wiggy, 2.50 Ivawood, 3.25 Buckstay, 4.00 Mr Cripps, 4.35 Intilaaq, 5.10 Druids Ridge.
NOTTINGHAM: 4.50 Raj To Riches, 5.25 North America, 5.55 Lahayeb, 6.25 Malaf, 6.55 Charlie Lad, 7.25 Dream Sika, 7.55 Galileano.
THIRSK: 2.10 Old Man Clegg, 2.45 Excilly, 3.20 Whozthecat, 3.55 Diescentric, 4.30 Elidor, 5.05 Cool Strutter, 5.40 Pea Shooter, 6.15 Clubland.
WOLVERHAMPTON: 6.10 Kerbaaj, 6.40 Excelling Oscar, 7.10 Al Muheer, 7.40 Ze King, 8.10 Altaayil, 8.40 Ninepointsixthree, 9.10 Swift Cedar.
DOUBLE: Indian Castle and Ivawood.