Stuart Crawford may bid to bridge 145-year gap with Yes Tom at Ayr

Co Antrim trainer is waiting on what Paul Nicholls decides to do with topweight Tidal Bay

Yes Tom wins over hurdles at Fairyhouse last November and may bid for glory in Saturday’s Scottish Grand National at Ayr.

Yes Tom wins over hurdles at Fairyhouse last November and may bid for glory in Saturday’s Scottish Grand National at Ayr.


Co Antrim-based Stuart Crawford is keeping a close eye on top English trainer Paul Nicholls to see what he does with topweight Tidal Bay ahead of Saturday’s Scottish Grand National where a historic 145-year gap could end up bridged by Yes Tom.

Like most of those pondering running in the Ayr highlight this weekend, Crawford’s plans largely hinge on whether or not Tidal Bay lines up on Saturday. If he does most of the rest of the field will be racing from out of the handicap proper although Crawford’s Yes Tom will be perfectly located on just 10st.

Nicholls is postponing a call on Tidal Bay, who unseated his rider in last Saturday’s Aintree National, until later this week but if he pulls out the veteran star, Crawford could then wind up adding both Mister Philson and Aibrean to his raiding party, taking the short ferry journey across the Irish Sea to Ayr.

The Scottish track’s authorities record the sole Irish-trained winner of the Scottish National as the 1869 winner Huntsman, but Yes Tom is definitely on target to try and become the second in a race in which another North of Ireland trainer, Colin McBratney, has left in Sole Witness while Ronan McNally still has See Double You in the mix.

It is Yes Tom, though, which has attracted some ante-post interest and he is a 20/1 shot after winning his first start for Crawford at Down Royal on St Patrick’s Day, just another success for a rising star in the training ranks this season.

“We’ve had him since the start of the year and we’ve been finding our feet with him a wee bit. We thought he’d run well at Down Royal although we weren’t expecting him to win. But although he’s had problems he has put in some good one-off performances in the past,” Crawford said yesterday.

What happens
Robbie Power rode Yes Tom at Down Royal but his chances of riding the horse again on Saturday also revolve around what happens with Tidal Bay.

“Ten stone might be a struggle for him if Tidal Bay runs so if that happens we’ll try and get the best we can get,” Crawford said.

“But if he doesn’t, the weights will go up and the whole race will change. If that happens we could also send Aibrean and Mister Philson. In terms of ground, the drier it gets the better for Yes Tom, Aibrean would like a little cut and Mister Philson would like it testing,” he added. “It would be great to win. Any of these big races, you’d give your right arm to win them.”

The 2013 Cheltenham Festival cross-country hero Big Shu only got as far as the third fence at Aintree last Saturday when well backed for the Grand National and trainer Peter Maher is now aiming his stable star at a defence of his La Touché crown at Punchestown.

“It was disappointing but that’s the National. If it was easy it wouldn’t be worth a million and you wouldn’t have 40 lunatics galloping down to the first,” he said yesterday.

“A horse fell in front of him at the second and going down to the third the loose horse backed off it, our horse’s head was right up his backside and he didn’t even see the fence.”

Maher added: “He came back in one piece which is the main thing. He didn’t go half a mile on Saturday so imagine he will go for the La Touche.

“We had the back man look at him when he got home as he’s always had a back problem and unbelievably whatever he did when he came down at Aintree has put the back problem right!”

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