Mouse Morris: Grand National hat-trick at Ayr a big ask

Trainer says Folsom Blue unlikely to repeat success of Rogue Angel and Rule The World

Trainer Mouse Morris and owners Gigginstown House Stud cannot see lightning striking three times when they go for a Grand National hat-trick at Ayr on Saturday.

The owner-trainer combination are responsible for Folsom Blue in the Coral-sponsored Scottish Grand National after scooping the pool with Rogue Angel in the Irish version and Rule The World at Aintree.

However, connections believe winning all three would be too much to ask for.

Folsom Blue was fourth in the Fairyhouse feature and Morris expects him to run creditably without landing the spoils.


“He ran a good race in Fairyhouse and he should come on for that,” said the County Tipperary handler.

"Andrew Ring rode him last time, so we're happy to have him on again.

“It would be too much to expect him to win, but he’s in good form and I’d be hopeful he’ll run well.”

Eddie O’Leary, racing manager for owners Gigginstown House Stud, also played down the chances of what would be an amazing achievement.

“Folsom Blue ran well the last day. He’s got a light weight and might have a small squeak,” he said.

As well as Folsom Blue, Gigginstown are represented by the Willie Mullins-trained Measureofmydreams, who ran a good race when third to Minella Rocco in the four-mile National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham.

“He ran well at Cheltenham. He’s probably got a bit too much weight on his back but we’ll see,” said O’Leary.

Scottish Borders trainer Sandy Thomson is hoping to win the feature with his star novice Seeyouatmidnight.

Thomson went to the Cheltenham Festival with high hopes for the eight-year-old, but the ground dried up and scuppered his chances of success in the RSA Chase as he was a well-beaten seventh of eight finishers behind Blaklion.

Thomson has his fingers crossed conditions will be more suitable on the west coast of Scotland.

He said: “Unfortunately he’s run in three Grade Ones now and each time the ground has gone against him.

“That was genuine good ground at Cheltenham, which wouldn’t be ideal.

“It was catch-22 because if he hadn’t gone out in front there wouldn’t have been enough pace, things just didn’t go for him.

“After a mistake at the third-last, Brian (Hughes) just brought him home and that might have been a blessing because without that he could have been scrapping out for a place and had a hard race.

“We’re on a fact-finding mission but I think it will suit him well.

“You never know about four miles until you try, hopefully we’ve brushed his jumping up as he has been getting a bit low, almost blase.”

Kerry Lee has had a highly-successful first season, winning a host of big races, including the Welsh National and the Betfred Grand National Trial.

The Presteigne handler feels Goodtoknow has the earned the right to have a crack at a big one, having won his last two races.

“He’s been brilliant this season. He’s a horse I’ve always thought a lot of at home and it’s been nice to see him progress this season,” said Lee.

“He’s had two good wins at Wetherby and Taunton. He’s obviously gone up in the weights but it means he’s earned his place and the chance to run in this race.

“Whether he’s good enough remains to be seen, but he certainly deserves a chance.”

Richard Newland is hoping either his 2014 Aintree hero Pineau De Re or Royale Knight, who was sixth at Aintree last year, can add the Scottish equivalent to his CV.

“It is a slightly easier race, but still a difficult race to win. It would be brilliant to win the race,” said the Claines handler.

“The race at Aintree when you looked at the line-up was frightening.

“I genuinely can’t split them. They’ve done a lot of work together. I was disappointed with Pineau’s last run as a prep run and we have just slightly changed his training routine.

“He has had a heck of a lot of work. They have both had two racecourse gallops at Wolverhampton. They’ve both worked well there and are as fit as a flea.

“Royale Knight has done nothing wrong and those gallops will put him right and he has been waiting all spring to run in one of these big handicaps.

“We will be excited if they can both run their races and, who knows, it might be Pineau’s last race.”

Gordon Elliott believes it could have been a blessing in disguise that Kim Muir winner Cause Of Causes failed to make the cut at Aintree.

“He’s been a great servant and any horse that wins twice at Cheltenham has to be some horse,” said the County Meath trainer.

“He missed out on getting into the Grand National, but that could have been all for luck the way the ground worked out as he’d want much better ground than that.”

Stuart Crawford would like plenty of cut to remain in the ground for his Irish Gold Cup third Fine Rightly, who has won his last two races.

“Hopefully they ground stays on the soft side as the horse is in great form,” said the County Antrim-based trainer.

“After what he’s done this season he’s probably nearer to being a Graded horse than a handicapper, but he deserves a crack at a race like this and I think he’s on a mark he can be competitive off.

“I’ve had a good few runners at Ayr, but I’ve never had a horse as good as him to run in the Scottish National.

“He’s had a very good season and as long as the ground is right I think he could run a big race.”

Jimmy Moffatt was disappointed Highland Lodge missed the cut for the Grand National, but reports the Becher Chase winner in tip-top shape.

“He’s fit and well. I’m very happy with him and looking forward to him running,” said the Cartmel trainer.

“He’s A1. He went for a racecourse gallop a couple of weeks ago and he’s great.

“I think he’s better than he was last week.”

Scottish-born Alan King tasted success with Godsmejudge in 2013 and relies upon Midnight Prayer to repeat the trick.

“I wanted to run three but the ground is too soft for Ziga Boy and Sego Success scoped badly,” the Barbury Castle trainer told Racing UK.

“He could run well. We know he stays as he landed the four-miler two years ago at Cheltenham and I wanted him to run at Aintree last week but even (a mark of) 142 doesn’t get you in these days.

“He’ll run respectably. He won’t mind the ground and he’s my only runner over the two days so I’ve at least got an excuse to go home!”