Seven runners go to post for the fourth race of the day at Ayr, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Despite a hike in the weights since his sequence began, NORTONTHORPELEGEND should have no problem rattling off the four timer. His latest win came here and conditions are once again perfect for him, so an 8lb rise shouldn’t be enough to stop him from returning to the winners enclosure. Quite a few of these have there quirks and his likely challenger will be Kilbree Chief who will find this assignment easier than his last few.
1 KILBREE CHIEF – C&D winner back in April off 3lb lower but hasn’t been at his best the last twice, struggling at both Cartmel and Kelso in the Scottish Borders National. Pitched into a much easier race today and was dropped 3lb for his latest run which is certainly a big plus. The heavy ground will play perfectly into his strengths and he’s proved he has the pace and stamina for this trip previously, so has to be respected today.
2 GROVE SILVER – Won three starts ago at Uttoxeter (2m 6f, Soft) though that was a small field and has struggled since, falling in the Scottish Borders National and not making much impression at Market Rasen on Boxing Day (3m 3f, Good to Soft). Seems to be on a tough mark at the moment, still 7lb above his last winning mark, and although conditions are to suit today it’s hard to see him winning this. He does have place claims as he stays well, but is likely to find one of these too good.
3 NORTONTHORPELEGEND – Has now won three on the bounce including at this venue over shorter a few weeks ago (3m, Soft) and has gone up another 8lb as a consequence. He’s now 21lb higher than the mark he started this sequence off on but is showing no signs of slowing down with his latest win another easy victory. In all likelihood he still has more to give despite this hike in the weights and will be hard to peg back with Brian Hughes retaining the ride and conditions to suit today.
4 MOSSIES WELL – Won on chasing debut in November 2015 (1m 7f, Heavy), but hasn’t been so good since and pulled up on his return back in September at Hexham over hurdles (2m 4f, Good to Soft), tailed off from an early stage. Lightly raced for his age but doesn’t make much appeal as he’s not a guaranteed stayer at this trip and others can have far more convincing cases made for them.
5 MANGO CAP – Has a patchy record since transferring to Great Britain from France but showed good amounts of promise when running on well at Taunton on his chasing debut last month (2m 7f, Good). This step up in trip should suit on that evidence with the heavier ground also being in his favour if judged on his French form, so he’s a very interesting contender. A mark of 117 doesn’t look insurmountable on the evidence of his chasing debut so deserves a second look, though it has to be noted that in the past two weeks, all 23 of David Pipe’s runners have yielded no winners, which has to be a concern.
6 BONZO BING – 0-10 over fences but posted a much improved display when behind Nortonthorpelegend in November at Catterick (3m 1f, Good), and now meets that rival on better terms. His current mark of 105 should be exploitable if judged on previous chase outings and if at his best he could be a creditable threat, but he’s never been the most consistent and it is hard to trust he will back that effort up. He has place claims if returning to his best but it is hard to see him reversing the form with that improving rival.
7 JONNY EAGER – Hasn’t returned with any zest this season, finishing a laboured sixth on seasonal reappearance at Sedgefield in November (3m 2f, Soft) and was no better when pulling up at Kelso with a poor round of jumping (3m 2f, Good to Soft). A stout stayer at this trip, he is certain to stay and will like these ground condition, with him also being dropped another 5lb in the weights. The main concern however is his poor jumping and bad performances of late and is impossible to recommend in his current vein of form.
8 SETTLEDOUTOFCOURT – Clearly not the force of old and has been very inconsistent for a while now, never able to back up any good performances he puts up. At his best he’d be a place contender, now 13lb below his last winning mark but he’s shown nowhere near that level of form this season and this heavy ground will not be to his liking. Hard to recommend on balance.