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Auroras and Ryan get Ayr green light

The Grand National heroes Auroras Encore and Ryan Mania will be reunited at Ayr on Saturday in the Scottish version of the chase.

The horse, who came out of Aintree unscathed and has been in good form since, was given the go-ahead yesterday by his trainer, Sue Smith, and the rider, who injured his neck in a fall the day after his headline triumph, by the sport's chief medical adviser, Michael Turner.

Mania (23) spent two nights in hospital after being airlifted from the track at Hexham, but the damage, which included a small fracture to a vertebra, proved less severe than first feared. "My own GP sent the results of tests to Dr Turner and I've got the all-clear to ride," he said.

Auroras Encore (pictured right) will carry top-weight as, ground allowing, he goes for a National double last completed by the legendary Red Rum in 1974.

"It's a huge task," said Smith, "and if we had any doubts at all about his well-being, we wouldn't send him. But he went really well in his work this morning and is in grand order."

The 11-year-old – an unconsidered 66/1 outsider at Aintree – is around 12/1 for Scotland's richest race. A total of 37 horses have been confirmed, including 6/1 ante-post favourite Rival D'Estruval. David Pipe looks set to saddle Big Occasion, winner of last month's Midlands National.

But despite the continuing presence of jumping celebrities at racetracks on both sides of the Irish Sea – there will be many more at Punchestown next week including, it seems increasingly likely, the peerless Sprinter Sacre – the elite Flat season is gathering momentum.

But, if the fighting talk from Faringdon Place stables in Lambourn is translated into deeds, those fillies who acquit themselves well in tomorrow's Nell Gwyn Stakes, the first of the traditional domestic preps for the 1,000 Guineas, will be playing only for place money in the Rowley Mile Classic.

The al-Thani family of Qatar have invested massively in bloodstock over the past few years and, through their investment company sponsor next month's Guineas festival, the Champions Weekend in October and the season-long Champions Series in between, to the tune of £14m.

But they have yet to have a winner of either of 'their' Classics, an omission that may be rectified on May 5 with Charlie Hills-trained Just The Judge. The filly is among the favourites for the 1,000 Guineas and is, according to al-Thani racing manager David Redvers, "the real deal".

"She has done so well over the winter. She was always the type to train on, with her size and scope, and she is now a massive, powerful individual, as wide as she's tall and looks like a colt among fillies. God help the others."

Olympic Glory and Moohaajim are the star names among 14 colts entered for Saturday's Greenham Stakes at Newbury. The Richard Hannon-trained Olympic Glory won the Prix Jean Luc Lagardere at Longchamp on his final outing last term to supplement a pair of Group Two wins in Britain.

His trainer also has Havana Gold in the race while Marco Botti has two in Moohaajim and Hasopop.

Meanwhile, small-time trainer Ian McInnes will face welfare charges at a disciplinary hearing next month. He is accused of running Commando Scott after "de-nerving" surgery to a hind limb. Another trainer, Howard Johnson, was banned for three years after being found guilty of a similar offence.

Coral Scottish Grand National, sponsors bet: 6/1 Rival D'Estruval, 8/1 Always Right, 10/1 Godsmejudge, 12/1 Auroras Encore, Big Occasion, Our Mick, Quentin Collonges, 16/1 bar. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent