This weekend is a massive one for Ayr Racecourse. The Scottish Grand National is the piece de resistance, but the Scottish Champion Hurdle is cracking race in its own right. The final declarations are in and Dave Stevos reckons this 40/1 shot could be worth chancing each way. Check his Scottish Champion Hurdle tip and preview below …
Scottish Champion Hurdle Tip: 2.25 Ayr – Handicap Hurdle (Grade 2)
A stellar field of 15 will line up at the start for this Grade 2 handicap hurdle. Some seriously talented horses have been declared, including the likes of Verdana Blue and Brain Power, both of whom were considered good enough to run in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. They should be a lot more at home on better ground and in this sort of company, but they are priced up accordingly. At a monster price, Caius Marcius could outrun his massive odds.
Nicky Richards trains this 8yo son of King’s Theatre and crack 7lb claimer Danny McMenamin will ride. He has been off the track for 146 days after a poor effort at Cheltenham in November off 142. That run was too bad to be true though, and he is better judged on his very unlucky 3rd in a Listed handicap hurdle at Ascot on his previous start off the same mark.
Caius Marcius was 9L behind Fidux that day in third, but that doesn’t tell the full story. When they were turning into the straight it got a bit tight up the inner and he lost his position. Sam Twiston Davies had to snatch up momentarily and found himself in rear by a couple of lengths. When Caius Marcius did find daylight between the last two hurdles he flew home. He was well behind the winner, but got up for 3rd by a head and was less than a length off 2nd.
His absence since Cheltenham is not a worry as he has gone well fresh before. His form figures after breaks of 53 days or more read 3125 and he also won his bumper first time out on his only previous start at Ayr. Good ground is key for this fella, and he will get his optimum conditions on Saturday. Another big plus is the booking of McMenamin as his record when riding for Nicky Richards is phenomenal.
He has had 27 rides for Richards with 6 wins and 15 top 4 finishes. That makes for a frame hitting strike rate of 81% and winning strike rate of 22%. His 7lb claim means that Caius Marcius will effectively be running off 133, 9lb lower than he was at Ascot. He handles the track, he will love the ground and at 40/1 a small each way interest is advised.
SCOTTISH CHAMPION HURDLE TIP: CAIUS MARCIUS E/W @ 40/1 (4 PLACES)