Tuesday, 4 May 2010
Ayr Racecourse Coral Scottish Grand National Festival was best yet
By: Iain Ferguson
THE best ever! That was the unanimous verdict on the 2010 Coral Scottish Grand National Festival at Ayr Racecourse.
Crowds of 22,500 over the two days - 5,500 on Friday and 17,000 on Saturday - created a terrific atmosphere, with the highlight undoubtedly the Coral Scottish Grand National which rewrote the record books.
Merigo, trained by Andrew Parker in Lockerbie for owners Ray and Anita Anderson Green, become the first horse in 28 years trained north of the border to win the race, and it was very much a family affair as the winning jockey Timmy Murphy is the son-in-law of the owners.
The winner was 18/1 on Saturday, but had been much shorter for last year’s big race before being withdrawn on the morning of the race. This time round it was clear from well over a mile out, so that barring a fall the famous green with yellow sash colours were set to be first past the post.
Gone To Lunch (15/2 fav) gave chase but was nine lengths adrift at the line with No Panic (40/1) a further 19 lengths away in third.
Ray Anderson Green said afterwards: “I am so happy. This is the race I've always wanted to win, and it really is a dream come true. It’s extra special with Timmy on board.”
Timmy Murphy also won the Samsung Electronics Scottish Champion Hurdle on Overturn (4/1 fav) for trainer Donald McCain Jnr.
Merigo and Murphy aside, the heroes of the day on Saturday were trainer Nicky Henderson and jockey Barry Geraghty with three winners – French Opera (7/4 fav) in the Scottish Sun Future Champions Chase, Andytown (9/2) and Sprinter Sacre (13/8 fav).
Friday had a tartan feel to it with trainer Jim Goldie and Lucinda Russell both saddling doubles with Goldie’s Stormin Exit landing the feature race of the day, the Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase in the hands of James Reveley.
Ayr Racecourse marketing director Lindsey Smith said: “The crowds were great and the atmosphere was electric. To have a Scottish trained winner after so long was a huge bonus, and we are all so happy for Ray and Anita.”
Ayr Racecourse’s next meeting is the two-day May start of the flat fixture featuring the williamhill.com Raceday and the Burns Festival Raceday on May 26 and 27. For further information call go online at www.ayr-racecourse.co.uk or call 01292-264179.
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