Ayr Racecourse always puts on a good show with its two day Scottish Grand National Festival. The coastal course rightly makes a big deal of Saturday’s feature race but it’s far from the only contest worth getting excited about. Take the Scottish Champion Hurdle for example. This Grade 2, two mile hurdle regularly attracts quality hurdlers north of the border and that’s certainly the case this year with what looks set to be a cracking renewal.
Scottish Champion Hurdle Tips
- Verdana Blue to win at 6/1 with Coral
- Irish Roe each way at 161 with Bet365
(odds correct at time of publication and subject to change)
Conditions Perfect for Verdana Blue
The going at Ayr has been officially good to soft in the week leading up to the Scottish Champion Hurdle. However, the forecast is for the rain to stay away, the wind to whip up a little and for there to be plenty of sun. That is a recipe for the ground drying out and connections of Verdana Blue are desperately hoping that it will be as close to good as possible on Saturday.
Nicky Henderson’s six-year-old has never won on ground that wasn’t either good or good to soft but when she gets her ground she is capable of winning against quality opposition. Henderson is confident that she still has plenty of room for improvement and is looking to test Verdana Blue against better company all the time.
Verdana Blue’s price has been steadily coming in as punters rush to get on board but the 6/1 that Coral are quoting still looks like decent value. She’ll surely be in the reckoning in the closing stages and providing she’s in a good position, Verdana Blue could just kick for home and add another impressive win to her CV.
Irish Roe Flying Under the Radar
Irish Roe’s last assignment at Newbury ended in disappointment. The seven-year-old mare was pulled up in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury having never really looked like threatening. There’s no disgrace in falling short against the calibre of opposition she was up against that day but the real disappointment was that her performance fell so flat after a run of form that read 2-1-1-2 to open up the new season.
There is nothing particularly flashy or complicated about what Irish Roe does. She prefers to be held up in the middle of the pack for most of the race before kicking strongly for home. That style has helped her versatility in terms of putting in strong performances on a variety of underfoot conditions but her strength in the closing stages means she’s particularly suited to good ground. That’s great news for connections ahead of her trip to Ayr and makes Irish Roe stand out from an each way betting perspective at 16/1 with Bet365.
Last Year’s Champion Represents the Main Danger
Both Verdana Blue and Irish Roe will have to get the better of some high quality horses to have a chance of landing a prize at Ayr. The biggest danger of all, however, is clearly last year’s champion, Chesterfield. Whatswrongwithyou is also likely to be in the reckoning but conditions will hopefully play into the hands of the two selections above.