Sunday, 29 April 2012
Merigo wins Coral Scottish Grand National 2012 at Ayr Racecourse
Cheers normally reserved for a Cup final winning goal echoed around Ayr Racecourse on Saturday afternoon 21 April 2012 when Merigo crossed the line a head in front of a gallant Auroras Encore in the Coral Scottish Grand National.
The gallant 11 year-old ridden by Timmy Murphy chased Auroras Encore up the home straight and was a length down jumping the last fence, but rallied to mug Ryan Mania's mount as they passed the post.
It was a fitting finale to a great race and Merigo became the first horse since 1956 to win back the race. having won it in 2010 and been runner-up last year.
Tears flowed from an emotional owner Raymond Anderson Green accompanied by his wife Anita and daughter Verity wife of jockey Murphy.
Trainer Andrew Parker who is based in Eccelfechan near Dumfries summed it all up when he said: "That's eight times Merigo has run here and he's won five, been second twice and third once. He just comes alive here - he has the heart of a lion."
The well backed 15/2 shot even carried the support of First Minister Alex Salmond who quipped : "A Scottish winner of the National, the money is out of the bookies' satchels and the nation's finances have taken a turn for the better."
A crowd of 16,314 watched the action - the third highest attendance in 20 years and the sun shone the entire afternoon.
The chief supporting race, The Isle of Skye Blended Whisky Scottish Champion Hurdle went to Raya Star (15/2) in the hands of Robert 'Choc' Thornton who gave Alan King's horse a peach of a ride to win by three and a quarter lengths from Local Hero (11/1).
Leading owner Graham Wylie had a superb meeting with three winners on Saturday and one on Friday. His Saturday successes were Grandioso (5/1) in the opening hurdle race, Pacha Du Polder (11/4 fav) in the Arcadia Consulting Future Champion Novices Steeple Chase for the Vulmidas Cup and Doeslessthanme (100/3 fav) in the Scotty Brand Handicap Chase.
His Friday win came courtesy of The Knoxs (5/1), in the Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase - the feature race of the day.
Largs owner Mrs Jo Tracey landed another Saturday highlight, The Weatherbys Bloodstock Insurance Handicap Chase with the David Pipe trained, Tom Scudamore ridden Problema Tic (6/1) and top trainer Nicky Henderson landed a double with Cucumber Run (10/1) and River Maigue (10/11 fav) both ridden by Barry Geraghty.
Ayr Racecourse Sales and Marketing supremo Lindsey Smith commented: "What a wonderful two days racing - everyone enjoyed the action and we had great crowds."