Nicholls targets Ayr card in key trainers’ title battle

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Willie Mullins leads Paul Nicholls in the trainers’ title

  PICTURE: RP GRAPHICS  

PAUL NICHOLLS has not given up hope of defending the champion trainer title, in which he currently trails Willie Mullins, and looks set to send a numerically-strong team to Ayr on Saturday.

The Coral Scottish Grand National, which has a total prize fund of £210,000, is the feature race at Ayr and Nicholls has left in four horses at the five-day confirmation stage, including 2015 RSA Chase runner-up Southfield Theatre, who is a general 12-1 shot.

Nicholls – whose Scottish National squad is completed by Vicente, Benvolio and Vivaldi Collonges – could also field up to three runners in the valuable QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle, which has a prize fund of £101,000.

Nicholls trails Willie Mullins by £182,986 in the trainers’ championship and will be hoping that All Yours, Connetable and Some Plan can help reduce the deficit.

Mullins looks likely to be well-represented at Ayr with impressive Aintree winner Ivan Grozny the headline act among his three in the Scottish Champion Hurdle, while he is also responsible for Measureofmydreams, who heads the Scottish National market at 8-1.

More for Morris?

Measureofmydreams is owned by Gigginstown House Stud, whose colours were carried to victory by Rogue Angel in the Irish Grand National and Rule The World in the Crabbie’s Grand National.

Both horses were trained by Mouse Morris and he could bid to win a third Grand National in as many weeks with Rogue Angel and Folsom Blue.

Aintree compensation

It proved harder than ever to get a run in the Crabbie’s Grand National this year and plenty of runners who missed the cut at Aintree look set to take their chance at Ayr.

Such horses include wide-margin Cheltenham Festival winner Cause of Causes, Becher Chase winner Highland Lodge and the Dr Richard Newland-trained pair of Pineau De Re and Royale Knight.

Scottish hope

Scotland’s richest race was last won by a Scottish-based trainer in 2o12 when Andrew Parker sent out Merigo to win the race for a second time and Seeyouatmidnight, who is trained in the Borders by Sandy Thomson, is a general 14-1 shot to keep the prize at home.

 

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