Harry The Viking can plunder Scottish National

A big-race winner would be nice, leading into Punchestown, and hopefully it may come with Harry The Viking in the Scottish National at Ayr this afternoon.

I know this is competitive, but at the same time its not the greatest race in the world and ten of the 25 runners are out of the handicap.

Harry has solid credentials and a lovely weight to carry — 10-11. He won four in-a-row, before heading to the four mile at the Cheltenham festival.

They didn’t go a frantic gallop in that contest and, after being a bit outpaced, he battled on in the closing stages to finish second to Teraforthree.

My plan will be to ride him just behind the pace and the fact he stays and jumps so well has to offer real encouragement. I think he has a great chance.

Harry The Viking is one of six rides I have for Paul Nicholls, so it will be most disappointing should I leave Scottish shores empty-handed.

I start on Pacha Du Polder in a Grade 2 novice chase. He made a bright start over fences at Sandown, but has been essentially below-par since.

He was already beaten when falling three out in the race won by For Non Stop at Newbury, so it is probably hard enough to make a case for him.

But he’s only a five-year-old and a big, raw horse, who will greatly benefit from enjoying a summer’s grass.

Edgardo Sol has been a bit of a revelation and you have got to think will produce a big effort in the Scottish Champion Hurdle.

He ran a cracker to fill second in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham and was terrific for me when winning over fences at Aintree nine days ago.

Edgardo is a great jumper and that does stand to him over fences, but he still seems more than capable of at least going close here.

I will be trying to follow in Mick Kinane’s footsteps aboard American Trilogy in a handicap hurdle. He bolted in for Mick in a charity race at Aintree last Saturday.

American Trilogy couldn’t handle fences and completely lost his way. He is far happier over flights, is now very much back on song and again I’m expecting a decent effort on his part.

I’m on Doeslessthanme in a handicap chase and he has won his last two, following a series of second placings.

He’s clearly in good order and should go nicely, but the suspicion surely is that the handicapper has now got his measure!

I end on No Loose Change in yet another handicap chase. I managed to win on him last time at Newbury by the guts of a furlong, 29 lengths to be precise.

I suppose it is hard enough to work out now how he fits into the scheme of things, having gone up by 16lbs.

What I do know is that an extra 16lbs wouldn’t have stopped him at Newbury, so we are not without hope.

I was in Willie Mullins’ on Thursday morning and all the big guns, and others, are now working nicely towards Punchestown.

I’m going to have a fair few high-profile rides, but will be with you here all next week, so we will deal with them as they arise.

Obviously, I’m more than glad to be back in harness, having had a heavy fall off Zarkandar at Aintree seven days ago.

It was soul-destroying coming so close to the National and I tried to persuade myself that I was capable of riding in the great race.

But the doctor is the best judge of all and was having none of it. It goes without saying that he was totally right.

I could have ridden three horses in the National, the eventual winner, Neptune Collonges, the third, Seabass, while the one I would have partnered, On His Own, went at Becher’s second time round.

I was delighted for all at Ditcheat that Netpune Collonges scored and thrilled for my father and sister, Katie, with Seabass.

Indeed, I thought two out Katie was going to make history and become the first lady rider to win the National.

When all is said and done, however, I still believe there is more than a possibility I got it right with On His Own, because he was cantering when departing.

Ah well, there’s always next year.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

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