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Auroras Encore and Ryan Mania en route to winning the National

  PICTURE: Martin Lynch (  

National hero Mania relishing Friday return

GRAND National-winning jockey Ryan Mania is relishing his return to the saddle at Ayr on Friday as he rides for the first time since a heavy fall at Hexham the day after the National resulted in him being airlifted to hospital.

Mania partners his Aintree hero Auroras Encore in the Coral Scottish National on Saturday and thinks the 11-year-old has a "great chance" of pulling off a historic double.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live on Thursday morning, Mania said: "I am very much looking forward to riding again. It's what we jockeys do, we don't want to be off too long, missing rides, missing winners.

"I am feeling okay. I am a little bit sore but I will get a bit more physio when I get to the course."

Mania and Auroras Encore finished a close second in last year's Scottish National and the jockey added: "Realistically he has a great chance. He stays the trip, he was second last year and hopefully he can go one better."

The going at Ayr was described as heavy on Thursday morning following a wet and windy 24-hours, although acting clerk of the course Harriet Graham  does not anticipate any issues with the two-day fixture going ahead.

She said: "We've had 26mm from 7am on Wednesday. It was torrential and only eased at 4pm. We've had a further 6mm overnight.

"It's currently dry [7.30am] with a forecast for scattered showers that should die out around 10am. It should be dry and breezy from then."

Despite standing water on the track, Graham said racing would have gone ahead if necessary on Thursday. She added: "It's not causing concern. We wouldn't want any more significant rain but we're raceable and can pump most of the water off.

"It's testing but the forecast is for dry weather now, although it will not have time to dry out significantly for either day. No inspections are planned."  

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