Scottish Grand National meeting key to title battle

Patrick Mullins expects today’s Scottish Grand National meeting at Ayr to be “pivotal” as the race to be crowned British champion trainer enters its final throws.

Willie Mullins currently holds a significant lead as he bids to become the first Irish-based trainer to claim the British title since the legendary Vincent O’Brien did so twice in the 1950s.

However, nine-times champion Paul Nicholls will not give up his crown without a fight and both trainers have major contenders in the Coral-sponsored Scottish Grand National itself.

With a total prize fund of £210,000 (€264.230) up for grabs in the feature event, and in excess of £100,000 (€125,800) on offer in the Scottish Champion Hurdle, it promises to be a fascinating day in Scotland, with the final day of the season at Sandown just a week away.

Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: “It’s going to be a pivotal day. If one of us wins the big race (Scottish Grand National), that could swing it.

“I think Dad is going over. I’m staying at home this weekend, but hopefully I might be at Sandown next week. Saturday is going to be interesting.”

Nicholls enjoyed a profitable afternoon yesterday as he reduced Mullins’ lead by £19,338 (€24,394).

Most of that tally came courtesy of Orbasa, who found only Definitly Red too good in the Listed Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase at Ayr.

Second spot earned Nicholls £9,616 (€12,099).

Nicholls had a brace at Fontwell, Saint Roque claiming the novices’ chase, before Red Hanrahan landed the novices’ hurdle, the pair adding £5,049 (€6,353) and £3,898 (€4,905) respectively to his tally.

Howlongisafoot also earned some cash, taking second in the handicap chase at and adding a further £1,928 (€2,426).

Despite Nicholls’ successes, Mullins still holds a commanding lead of £132,481 (€166,712) over the Ditchet handler.


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