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THE closest finish ever in a Coral Scottish Grand National saw 33-1 chance Joe Farrell hold on by a nose from Ballyoptic to land the £122,000 prize and give trainer Rebecca Curtis and jockey Adam Wedge their biggest ever success.
It was an enthralling race and at one point it looked as if Vicente was going to create history by becoming the first horse in more than 100 years to win three consecutive Scottish Grand Nationals.
Sam Twiston-Davies had his mount perfectly situated on the outside of the pack but his jumping didn’t stand up in the home straight and he had to settle for a gallant fifth place.
But take nothing away from the brilliant Joe Farrell who denied Ballyoptic’s trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies his fourth win in the race. Ironically Nigel also had the runner up last year in Cogry.
The story behind Joe Farrell is one of a horse whose career has been hampered by injury but he turned up in fine fettle at the Craigie track on Saturday and delivered in spades.
He led three out and at that stage it looked as if it was just a matter of how far but Ballyoptic and jockey Tom Bellamy had other ideas and the crowd were left wondering who had won as the two horses flashed past the post.
But when the announcement went up that Joe Farrell had won Rebecca Curtis was one relieved woman. She’s had a rotten season one way or another but to win the Coral Scottish Grand National has changed everything.
Speaking in the Winners Enclosure after the race, Rebecca said : “I own a quarter of him. I bought him quite cheaply out of John Ferguson’s sale. He had broken down on both his front legs. I took a chance with him and thankfully he’s won a big race. It’s paid off.
“It’s my first time ever in Scotland and to win a race like this is unbelievable. I’ll be back.”
Jockey Adam Wedge rode Court Minstrel to win the 2013 QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle but Saturday’s success was by far his biggest ever and he said afterwards : “I had no idea I’d won I thought Tom had just beat me so I was overjoyed to hear my boy called the winner.”
Among the other highlights over the two days was the win of Midnight Shadow in the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle for trainer Sue Smith and jockey Danny Cook.
Danny said : “I’ve landed a few good pots this season but this is the best.”
Value At Risk won Friday’s Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase Listed Race for trainer Dan Skelton and his jockey brother Harry while the new £100,000 race on Saturday the Dawn Homes Novices’ Championship Handicap Chase was captured by 22-1 outsider Crosshue Boy for trainer Sean Doyle and jockey Harley Dunne.
Issued by Iain Ferguson on behalf of Ayr Racecourse. For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292-294972 or 07795-565691.
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