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Henry Brooke: Anglers Crag All Set For The Scottish Grand National

It’s a big couple of days for me, as I’m off to Ayr for the Scottish Grand National meeting. My main hope will be in the big race itself on Saturday, the Scottish Grand National, as I team up with Anglers Crag. He’s been a great horse for me this season, and I can’t wait to ride him.

I’ve got four rides across the two days, so I’m hoping we can have a good weekend.

What is it like to ride Ayr?

It’s a very straightforward track to ride, with two long galloping straights and nice sweeping bends. You have a lot of time to get your horse into position up the straights, and there aren’t usually too many hard-luck stories. 

The Scottish Grand National probably isn’t the nicest of races to ride in. There is normally a fast drive on to get to the front, and you might get 20 runners lining up across the track, so it can be hard to get a good position early. However, once they get down the far side, they usually slow the pace down, which means you can work your horse into the race. There are a few laps of the track in the race, and it can feel like you’re going around in circles, so it’s important to keep your concentration at all times, but as they say, you’ve got to be in it to win it. 

My rides at Ayr

Friday

2.20 – Phil De Pail (Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero)

He’s run well on his two starts this season on heavy ground; that wouldn’t be his ideal. The going should be good-to-soft at Ayr on Friday, which would be perfect for him. We definitely haven’t seen the best of him this season, and this is the kind of race we’ve been looking to run him in. The blinkers will be staying on here, and I feel he can be competitive off a nice racing weight.

3.20 – Dripsey Moon (John McConnell)

He’s been campaigned in the deep end a lot this season, running in graded races, which included a run in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham last time out. I don’t know too much about him as I’ve never ridden him before, but looking at his form, he’s run on heavy ground a lot this season, which doesn’t look to be his optimum, so hopefully he’ll go better in these drier conditions. His owner, Jimmy Fyffe, always likes to have runners at this meeting, so it’s a nice ride to pick up.

Saturday 

3.35 – Anglers Crag (Brian Ellison)

This has been the plan for him since he won the Eider at Newcastle. He’s improved a lot this season, and he’s going for his fifth win in a row, though this will be his biggest test to date. I schooled him last week, and he went well, and Brian is really happy with him, so we’re hoping we can win the big one.

4.45 – Bertie’s Ballet (Dianne Sayer)

I really like this horse, and I think a lot of him. He’s run well in every race this season, and I think he’ll have more to offer next season. There aren’t too many runners taking their chance, but he’ll have to find a lot to get the better of Quai De Bourbon, trained by Willie Mullins, who is rated nearly 25lb higher than us on official ratings. However, it’s a novice race, and anything can happen, so you never know.

I hope you all enjoy the racing at Ayr and have a great weekend!

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