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  • Ayr Top Tips: Fast Pace Will Suit Petit Tonnerre In Scottish Champion Hurdle

Ayr top tips: Fast pace will suit Petit Tonnerre in Scottish Champion Hurdle

After winning Tipstrr’s Best Tipster award for 2024’s first quarter, racing pundit Steve Jones casts his expert eye over Saturday’s Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr.

14:25 Ayr: Coral Scottish Champion Hurdle (2 miles)

There are two confirmed front-runners in today’s decent-sized field, so this could be run at a very brisk tempo. Rubaud, who won this race last year (on good, off 13lbs lower), has led his last seven races and one of the Irish raiders, Effernock Fizz, has led her last eight, so something has to give today.

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That scenario is perfect for Petit Tonnerre, who stays a lot further than this but who put in an eye-catching display when coming from off the pace in last year’s 17-furlong County Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival.

He was right at the back of the 24-runner field as the leaders approached the second-last, but came from nowhere to finish seventh of 24 (beaten 6¼  lengths, 3¼ lengths off a place) and had he been positioned even a little further forward, it could have been very interesting given how strongly he finished.

He ran off a mark of 140 on that occasion and he competes off just 132 today, so he looks to have been underestimated.

Last year’s County Hurdle was his final run of the season, and this term his first four outings were all over fences before he returned to Cheltenham last month for the latest renewal of the County Hurdle.

That latest run is very easy to overlook because, in contrast to last year, the race was run very slowly in the early stages and the ground was a lot deeper. Both factors completely unsuitable for Petit Tonnerre.

He was still travelling well in fourth place (of 17) on the approach to the second-last, but he was unsurprisingly left behind on the sprint up the home straight. The likelihood of a much better pace today, combined with the drying ground, make this six-year-old an attractive proposition.

Suggested best bet: Petit Tonnerre in the 14:25 at Ayr


Of the others, one of the Mullins trio, Westport Cove, is a bigger price than his stablemate, Bialystok, mainly because Paul Townend rides the latter.

But Westport Cove has produced both his wins over two miles and the latest of them, in a maiden at Thurles in November, came on the best ground he has had so far.

He travels as though a big-field handicap like this will be perfect for him and he comes here on the back of an encouraging  third of 12 at Fairyhouse late last month, a Listed handicap won by one of today’s front-runners, Effernock Fizz.

Westport Cove would have been a lot closer but for making a mess of the last and losing momentum (trading as low as 2.08 from a BSP of 11.00 prior to that), but he is still very lightly-raced in this sphere (that was his first completed start in a handicap) and he has the scope to progress a lot further.

Next best bet: Westport Cove each-way in the 14:25 at Ayr

READ MORE: Saturday ITV racing tips: Best bets for Ayr and Newbury for April 20

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