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Lancashire Telegraph Racing Column
7:28am Saturday 12th April 2014 in Sport
Roberto Goldback showed signs of a return to form at the Cheltenham Festival and he can prove the star turn in the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr.
The presence of Tidal Bay means more than half the field are running from out of the handicap which gives the race an unusually fiendish edge, with claims to be made for a handful of contenders.
However, Roberto Goldback races from just within the handicap and with only 10st 2lb on his back, he will think he is running free after shouldering some sturdy weights throughout the season.
Rated 162 at one point in the 2013-13 campaign, Roberto Goldback is now off a 20lb lower mark after failing to strike gold in well over a year now.
The 12-year-old disappointed in a couple of starts before Christmas but shaped a little better when sixth at Doncaster in January, although he never looked likely to win that day.
The handicapper duly dropped him 6lb following that effort and trainer Nicky Henderson felt it was worth a shot at the Kim Muir with him.
Despite having to carry top weight, he performed with credit to finish third behind Spring Heeled, although a little way adrift of the front pair.
Roberto Goldback has gone down another 2lb since then and with better ground a definite factor in his favour, he could go well at a nice price.
Stablemate My Tent Or Yours will certainly not be available at generous odds but is still hard to oppose in the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle.
Henderson's charge has to give lumps of lead away to all his rivals but following his narrow Champion Hurdle second, he is a thoroughly worthy top weight.
His free-going nature did not lend itself particularly well to Cheltenham as he was found out up the hill, but this is an excellent chance of redemption.
Classic claims will be on the minds of most at Newbury and Night Of Thunder can establish himself as a 2000 Guineas contender in the Aon Greenham Stakes.
Richard Hannon appears to hold a strong hand in the colts' division and Night Of Thunder impressed in winning both his juvenile starts, signing off with a Listed success at Doncaster.
That ready three-length victory showed just how well he can handle cut after bolting up on similar ground at Goodwood on his first attempt.
The presence of Toormore in the yard means Night Of Thunder has perhaps gone under the radar a little, but he should not be able to keep such a low profile after this.
Al Thakhira flopped at the Breeders' Cup meeting on her final two-year-old outing but she can make amends in the Dubai Duty Free Stakes, better known as the Fred Darling.
Her initial Yarmouth maiden win last September prompted Marco Botti to swiftly raise her sights to Group Two level and she repaid that faith with a very cosy victory in the Rockfel at Newmarket.
However, the decision to make the trip to Santa Anita did not reap such rewards, with Al Thakhira all at sea and tailed off on lightning-fast ground in California.
Conditions here should be more to her liking and if she is make up into a Classic filly, Al Thakhira will need to be winning here.
Botti could make it a Newbury double, with Foxtrot Romeo an eyecatching entry in the Berry Bros & Rudd Magnum Spring Cup.
Second in the Irish 2000 Guineas a couple of years back, he has thoroughly lost his way since as he has struggled to make his mark in Group and Listed company.
Switched to the handicap sphere off a mark of 94 here, Foxtrot Romeo merits the utmost respect if Botti has managed to rekindle his fire.
Mutashaded has plenty of stamina in his pedigree and can mark himself as a stayer on the up with a seasonal debut win in the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes.
Baccarat's fifth in last year's Ayr Gold Cup puts him right in the mix in Thirsk's ebfstallions.com Michael Foster EBF Conditions Stakes, while Attain should be supported in the Ladbrokes Classified Selling Stakes at Wolverhampton.
Sir Mangan is the choice in the Larry Pryde 70th Birthday Celebration Novices' Hurdle at Bangor.
AYR: 1.30 Silsol, 2.05 Valdez, 2.40 My Tent Or Yours, 3.15 Le Bacardy, 3.50 ROBERTO GOLDBACK (NAP), 4.25 Fine Rightly, 5.00 Bit Of A Jig, 5.35 Seldom Inn.
BANGOR: 1.55 Sir Mangan, 2.30 King's Grace, 3.05 Fiddleesticks, 3.40 Valrene, 4.15 No Duffer, 4.50 Gold Ingot, 5.25 Final Pass, 5.55 Ski Sunday.
NAVAN: 2.00 Calling You, 2.30 Stormfly, 3.00 Dazzling, 3.35 Answered, 4.10 Urban Moon, 4.45 Beau Michael, 5.15 Palace.
NEWBURY: 1.20 Elite Force, 1.50 Mutashaded, 2.20 Al Thakhira, 2.55 Night Of Thunder, 3.30 Foxtrot Romeo, 4.05 Eagle Top, 4.40 Mubtadi.
THIRSK: 2.15 Klynch, 2.50 Singing Star, 3.25 Farlow, 4.00 Baccarat, 4.35 Dark Ruler, 5.10 Eastern Impact, 5.45 Icy Blue, 6.15 Trade Secret.
WOLVERHAMPTON: 5.50 Sewn Up, 6.20 Jalebi, 6.50 Attain, 7.20 Ishikawa, 7.50 Moriond, 8.20 Well Owd Mon, 8.50 Ifan.
DOUBLE: Roberto Goldback and Night Of Thunder.
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