Wednesday, 17 April 2019
Nicky Richards lands Coral Scottish Grand National for the north
By Iain Ferguson
NICKY Richards struck a blow for the north in the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr Racecourse-on Saturday when Takingrisks, given a super cool ride from Sean Quinlan, won the £122,500 first prize in front of a sell-out crowd of 18,500.
The Penrith-based trainer is one of the most loyal supporters of Ayr Racecourse during the jumps season, and he followed his father Gordon, who trained Scottish National winners Playlord (1969) and Four Trix (1990), into the history books.
He said afterwards: “It was great for racing in the north. Takingrisks (pictured above) is owned by Frank Bird, who is one of the biggest poultry farmers in the country, and is based near our yard. He is a great owner, and just lets me get on with it.”
At the start of the season, the aim of jockey Sean Quinlan (pictured above) was to ride 50 winners, and Takingrisks gave him his 54th win. He said: “Things have gone well for me since teaming up with agent Richard Hales, and today was by far my biggest win.
“It’s one of the top jumps races and is easily the pinnacle of my career.”
Takingrisks blundered at the first but recovered well from that and travelled well into the race and caught the eye from four out and drew clear on the run in to win by four lengths from Crosspark, trained by Caroline Bailey, with Cloth Cap in third and Blue Flight fourth.
Connor Brace, a 17 year-old conditional jockey was another rider claiming his biggest ever success when steering Verdan Blue to victory in the CPMS Scottish Champion Hurdle for trainer Nicky Henderson.
This was a tremendous performance as he pulled seven lengths clear of Dino Velvet and a trip to the Punchestown Festival could be on the cards next.
There was a double on the day for trainer Dan Skelton and his jockey brother Harry when they teamed up to win the first two races on the card – the Scotty Brand Handicap Chase, Listed race, with Azzuri and the J & D Pierce Novices’ Champion Handicap Chase with Molly The Dolly.
The Jordan Electrics Future Champion Chase went to Paul Nicholls and jockey Harry Cobden with Secret Investor.
More than 1.2 million watch Coral Scottish Grand National
A record number of viewers tuned into the ITV coverage of the Coral Scottish Grand National on Saturday with more than 1.2 million watching the closing stages of the race.
The ITV Racing average viewing figure for Saturday was up 10% from 609,000 in 2018 to 673,000 this year while the three minute peak was up 17% from 1.01 million to 1.18 million.
The 1.213 million recorded towards the end of the show is believed to be the biggest figure on a Saturday excluding the Grand National, Derby and Saturday of Royal Ascot.
ITV Racing’s Ed Chamberlin (pictured above), who presented the action from Ayr, said: “It was great to bring viewers both great jumps and flat racing on Saturday. I love going up to Ayr, we had a brilliant day and I couldn’t be happier that, following on from such great stories and viewing figures at Cheltenham and Aintree, so many people watched the Coral Scottish Grand National, one of the big races in our jumps calendar.”
David Brown, Managing Director of Ayr Racecourse said: “These figures just underline the huge appeal of the Coral Scottish Grand National and the supporting card.
“When you consider that the race is also the fourth biggest in the UK in terms of betting turnover it shows the wide appeal of this great race.”
For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292 294972 or 07795 565691.
Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.