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Ben Linfoot free horse racing tips for Ayr and Newbury Saturday April 20

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Our form expert tackles the ITV races on Saturday including the Spring Cup at Newbury and the Scottish Grand National at Ayr.


The Verdict: Saturday, April 20

1pt e.w Special Rate in 1.50 Ayr at 20/1 (William Hill 1/5 1,2,3,4)

2pts win Favour And Fortune in 2.25 Ayr at 11/2 (General)

1pt win Thunder Ball in 3.15 Newbury at 9/1 (General)

1pt e.w Autonomous Cloud in 3.35 Ayr at 20/1 (General 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6)

Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook


Autonomous in control of Scottish National

It’s a competitive renewal of the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr on Saturday, especially with Willie Mullins running six in his pursuit of the UK trainers’ championship, and this could be run at a very different tempo to the Aintree National with plenty of pace on paper on drying ground.

Most recent Scottish Nationals have been won from horses racing in mid-division or worse, which is interesting given fancied horses like MacDermott, Mr Vango, Stay Away Fay, Spanish Harlem and Inis Oirr look likely to be setting the fractions, and at the prices I’m happy to take on those horses in favour of backing something likely to be ridden with more patience.

The one I like is AUTONOMOUS CLOUD for Fergal O’Brien, a lightly-raced staying chaser who ran a big race in the Midlands National last time out over 4m2f on heavy ground.

He handles those conditions very well, but the combination of the ground and the trip just seemed to catch him out after the last, although he wasn’t beaten far in a seven-and-a-quarter length fourth.

The eight-year-old, who has had just three runs this season, gets a pull at the weights with the trio that finished in front of him on Saturday, but he could be most suited by the slight drop in trip to four miles on better conditions.

He has shaped like a horse that has a marathon handicap chase in him throughout his novice races and he looks to have hit that sweet spot of experience and opportunity now, which is no surprise given his excellent trainer.

O’Brien went close twice in this race with popular stayer Alvarado in the Vicente years, and he looks to have another strong stayer to go to war with here, Jonathan Burke an excellent choice for the ride on the back of Paddy Brennan’s retirement.

The Verdict: Back AUTONOMOUS CLOUD in 3.35 Ayr


Fortune favours the brave

The ground is officially ‘soft’ at the time of writing but it can drain quickly up at Ayr and with dry and breezy conditions forecast in the build-up to Saturday’s card we could see a bit of ‘good’ in the going description come the off.

With that in mind I want to take on County Hurdle second L’Eau du Sud in the Coral Scottish Champion Hurdle with Alan King’s FAVOUR AND FORTUNE who looks to be crying out for a bit of drying ground.

He’s a good-looking horse with a good-ground action and he’s run very well in the mud this winter considering that, finishing second in the new Grade 1 novice at Aintree on Boxing Day, before finishing runner-up to Fun Fun Fun at Exeter and sixth in the Sky Bet Supreme, all on soft or heavy ground.

His hurdling needs to improve but jumping out of better conditions can help him on that score and he has a similar profile to last year’s winner, Rubaud, who was a good novice running off a lenient mark.

The Verdict: Back FAVOUR AND FORTUNE in the 2.25


Special bet in the champion novice

Phil Kirby’s SPECIAL RATE looks a big price in the CPMS Novices’ Champion Handicap Chase earlier on the Ayr card (1.50).

The bookies look to be taking a chance offering 20/1 about such a progressive novice, a horse who has taken off since stepping up in trip over a fence, as a record of four wins from six goes in chases suggests.

It would be dangerous to assume he’s found his level after defeat at Kelso last time, as he didn’t jump well that day when dropped a couple of furlongs in trip to 2m5f, and he should be much happier back over three miles.

He’s best judged on the form of his Kelso win over three miles in January, where he beat a couple of subsequent winners in Jet Legs and Dubai Day outside of novice company.

There’s a large dollop of small stable syndrome factored into his price here against the might of Mullins, Paul Nicholls and Dan Skelton, but Kirby can hold his own in this type of contest, his record in novice handicap chases over 2m7f and more an excellent 9/37 at 24.32%.

The Verdict: Back SPECIAL RATE in the 1.50 Ayr


Thunder to rumble in Spring Cup

Over at Newbury it’s the Fred Darling and the Greenham but the best betting race is the OLBG Spring Cup over a mile where a handful of horses from the Lincoln do battle again including the second, third and fourth.

It’s the seventh home from Doncaster that interests me though, THUNDER BALL, as he shaped much better than the bare result on Town Moor, travelling well in a prominent position and doing the best of those up with the pace despite weakening late on.

He gave the eventual winner, Mr Professor, a lovely tow into the race as he shielded him from the headwind, jockey Alec Voikhansky hitting the front at one stage before letting his horse roll home without pressure once his chance had gone.

I’d expect him to come on significantly for that run and it’s notable he won second time out at Newbury last year, when beating Roger Varian’s subsequent dual winner Equatorial, now rated 99, by four lengths in impressive style.

The Verdict: Back THUNDER BALL in the 3.15 Newbury

Preview posted at 1410 GMT on 19/04/24


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