While it seemed to be raining almost everywhere else, the trainers of several leading fancies for the Scottish National were left disappointed yesterday as Ayr turned out to be one of the exceptions.
It was the not the news that Lenny Lungo, the trainer of the mud-loving Birkdale, wanted to hear. Southern challengers Edmond and Trouble Ahead are also better on soft ground.
"There are some showers forecast but they aren't expected to be heavy," said Richard Pridham, Ayr's clerk of the course.
"The weather can be unpredictable at Ayr but I would say the ground should be good or on the soft side of good on Saturday."
Despite the dry forecast, Young Kenny, last year's winner, winner and top-weight this time around, is now almost certain to line up again in the £70,000 handicap. His jockey, Brendan Powell, is confident of a bold showing from the Peter Beaumont-trained nine-year-old who fell at the 10th in last Saturday's Grand National.
"It was an easy fall and I managed to catch him pretty quickly, so he probably didn't waste too much energy. I know that Peter has had the back man out to check Young Kenny and everything seems fine," reported Powell, who also again denied reports that he is on the verge of retirement.
In Scottish National betting, the Jonjo O'Neill-trained Lord Of The West has been cut to 20-1 from 33-1 by William Hill, the Leeds firm also clipping Scotton Green to 16-1 from 20-1, Cavalero to 10-1 from 12-1 and Edmond to 9-1 from 10-1. Ladbrokes have trimmed favourite Paris Pike to 4-1 from 9-2.
Saturday's alternative attraction of a high-class Flat card at Newbury will have to do without Frankie Dettori, who is instead travelling to Hong Kong to partner Godolphin's Iscan in the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Dettori's agent Andrew Stringer said: "Frankie is riding at Newbury on Friday, but unfortunately he can't be there on Saturday and ride in Hong Kong. Godolphin is Frankie's number-one retainer and he will go wherever he is required by them."
Kieren Fallon, however, is back in action today with two rides at Brighton and will also appear at Newbury, where his mounts include Seazun in the Fred Darling Stakes, Biennale in the John Porter Stakes and Pantar in the Spring Cup.
Fallon has been out of action since falling ill and giving up his booked rides at Warwick 10 days ago.
His acting agent, Jonathan Ramsden, said yesterday: "They thought it might have been glandular fever but it can't have been that if he's returning tomorrow."
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