Consistent Just Cameron bidding for more big-race success in feature contest
Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase (Listed) | 2m4½f | 5yo+ | RUK
The feature race on the opening afternoon of Ayr’s two-day Coral Scottish Grand National meeting is the Listed Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase (3.45) over 2m4½f, with Castleford Chase scorer Just Cameron heading the weights for Micky Hammond and Joe Colliver.
A one-time runner-up to the mighty Un De Sceaux in a Grade 1 Chase at Punchestown, Just Cameron rarely runs below form and his last start at Ayr, albeit in 2015, was a win over the smart Duke Of Navan.
“He’s run consistently well again this season,” said Hammond.
“Having been beaten the previous year we were very keen at the start of the season to win the Castleford Chase and were delighted to do that at Christmas.
“He goes on any ground, is a course winner around Ayr and we’re hopeful of a big run."
Another northern yard hoping to keep the challengers at bay is Sue Smith’s, represented in the race by the hat-trick seeking Cracking Find.
Despite running with a 5lb penalty for his latest win at Carlisle, he sits at the foot of the weights under Danny Cook.
“The horse came out of Carlisle, over a trip short of his best, very well,” said Smith. “This is obviously a fair step up in class for him but he jumps great and and he’s in very good form. All being well the ground should be in his favour.”
One of the most intriguing in the field is Full Glass, a four-time winner for Guillaume Macaire in France, who makes his first start for Alan King in the familiar green silks of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede.
“He's been pleasing since he came over from France,” said King. “He'll probably be a three-miler next season but I want to get a feel for him before we put him away.”
Lamanver Odyssey bids for compensation
Cheltenham’s all-mare card on Thursday seems to have had little effect on the £30,000 staying handicap hurdle for females at 4.45, with a healthy field of 16 declared.
Lamanver Odyssey, demoted to second having passed the post first at Haydock last time, is among the leading contenders despite edging a further 5lb up the weights
“She’s stepping up in trip on slightly better ground and we always felt she’d wanted more of a trip,” said trainer Harry Fry: “If she can run like Haydock again, hopefully she’ll have a good chance.”
King saddles Tara View in the race and said: “She comes to herself in the spring and has been waiting for better ground since running perfectly respectably for third at Southwell back in December. This is a good race but she's a decent mare who won four on the trot last season.”
The going at Ayr improved to good to soft, good in places on Thursday with a dry forecast until the close of racing on Saturday and drying ground is a concern for Haul Us In, chasing a four-timer for trainer Lucinda Russell.
“She’s improved immensely this season and is in great form but will only run if there’s enough juice in the ground,” she said. “If it was heavy she’d have definitely had a squeak but if it’s safe she’ll run.”
The opposite applies for River Icon, who returns from a winter break in the same race. Trainer Iain Jardine said: “We’ve been waiting for better ground and, as long as it has dried up nicely, she should have a good chance.”
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