Elliott hoping for another Grey day

GORDON Elliott, whose already superb season includes winners at the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals, heads to Ayr this afternoon hoping that National Hunt Chase winner Chicago Grey can give him a first victory in the Scottish Grand National.

“There are a lot of runners and you need a lot of luck but the horse is in good form and we’re looking forward to it,” said Elliott.

“He’s come out of the Cheltenham race fine and he’s a very clean-winded horse.

“The trip and the ground won’t be a problem. All we need is a bit of luck and he’ll run a big race.”

Tim Vaughan’s Beshabar, who gave Chicago Grey most to do at Cheltenham, re-opposes.

With his charge now 5lb better off at the weights, Vaughan is hopeful that the improving chaser might be able to reverse the places.

“We’re very much looking forward to it and we’re a little bit better off with Chicago Grey on Saturday,” said the Welsh handler.

“It’s a big field but he’ll love the trip, track and ground. He’s had a lovely clean run through since Cheltenham and he should run a big race.

“He hasn’t had much racing this year, so I’m hoping he might be a fresher horse than some of them.

“He seems very well at home and his jumping has improved with every run.

“He’s still a novice over fences and could still be on the upgrade.”

Twelve months ago, Merigo became the first Scottish-trained horse to win the race in 28 years and his trainer Andrew Parker insists anything else he achieves will be a huge bonus.

“He’s in good form and we can’t do any more with him. His whole season has been geared around either this Saturday or last Saturday,” said Parker.

“We declared him for the National at Aintree and had the option of being fourth reserve, but we didn’t see much point in doing that and we knew he could run in this race again.

“At the end of the day, he’s won a Scottish National and not many horses do that – anything else he does will be a bonus.

“I’m happy enough with the ground as it is. We’re 3lb higher than last year but in effect he’s running off 15lb higher because we’re running from a long way out of the handicap with the top horse (Neptune Collonges) running.”

Minella Four Star arrives on the back of victory in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter and his trainer David Pipe believes there are plenty of reasons to expect another bold show this weekend. Claimer Conor O’Farrell keeps the ride.

“He’s gone up 11lb for the win at Uttoxeter but he’ll like the ground, the track and the trip,” said Pipe.

“Obviously it helps us that Neptune Collonges has stayed in as we get in on a nice low weight and a lot of the other horses are running from out of the handicap.

“He seems to have come out of his last race well and all the signs have been good at home. He’d have a small each-way chance.”

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