Ruby Walsh rides The Minack in today’s Coral Scottish Grand National – 3.25 at Ayr. Ruby’s lowest riding weight in the past 12 months has been 10st 2lb. He needs to do 10st 1lb today to make the weight.
Losing 1lb doesn’t sound like much of a sacrifice, but I’d guess that Ruby normally rides at around 10.4 or 10.5 and he’ll have to have done some wasting (quick weight reduction through sauna/exercise/calorie-reduction or a combination of all three).
Ruby could have had a big dinner every night this week and taken the option of riding the yard’s Neptune Collonges on whom even the trainer might have done the weight of 11.12 (well, with a fair bit of wasting himself!).
The Minack is in the youngest age group in the race – one of four 7-year-olds – and must be among the least experienced ever to run in the Scottish National: he’s had just 8 races in his career, only three of those in steeplechases. Bar a bad mistake in his last race, he would probably have won all 3 ‘chases. It’s highly likely there is quite a bit of improvement in him and 10st 1lb seems a very fair weight for this unexposed horse, especially as he is just one of eight ‘in the handicap’ (this means that 22 of the 30 runners carry more than the handicapper allotted them due to a compulsory minimum weight of 10 stones, excluding any allowance a jockey might claim – see jargon buster for more on this).
Here are the quotes from connections about The Minack:
27Jan11 Warwick ( 21 GS ,RPR146 )
That was perfect. This is the minimum trip he wants but he was very professional and put in a good round. He would be a possible for the Reynoldstown and, if performing well there, we could start to think about Cheltenham. – Harry Fry, pupil assistant
25Feb10 Huntingdon ( 21 Sft ,RPR143 )
Jumping is his game and he jumped these hurdles beautifully and will make a good staying novice chaser next year. The ground was plenty soft enough but he stays all day and we will just looking after him. He is running for experience at the moment and wewill see what the ground is like but he is a novice chaser for next year. – Harry Fry, trainer’s pupil assistant
16Jan10 Kempton ( 21 Sft ,RPR146 )
Ruby said he is crying out for a fence. He is still babyish at the start and we might have to bide our time with him and not go to Cheltenham this year. He is one for the future. – Paul Nicholls, trainer.
William Hill, Betfred and Stan James are best price at 10/1 as I write, and I think the Scottish crowds will latch on to this one so he should go off a bit shorter.
Beshabar is worth a saver at around 8/1. He ran really well at Cheltenham over this trip and on this ground and is better off at the weights with the only one who beat him that day, Chicago Grey. Beshabar’s jumping is a bit deliberate but he too is still learning and improvement can be expected on that front (cue a tumble at the first!).
So those are my two in the penultimate big steeplechase of the season – The Minack is just preferred to Beshabar but at the prices, it’s worth betting both. Good luck to them, to you and to the runners and riders in all todays’ races. May they come home safe.