Scotland was less than a length away from a Cheltenham winner as Mirage Dore's late charge up the hill saw him fall just short of victory for Milnathort-based Lucinda Russell in the Coral Cup. He really gave the Irish winner Ninetieth Minute a battle. Since the ground has now come right for Mirage Dore it would seem no harm to take in a race at Aintree, the 2m 4f handicap hurdle on the opening day being the obvious target, though the 3m handicap on the second day might be a possibility given the sharper track.
With Lucinda Russell's stable upping their game year upon year it would come as no surprise to see a Scottish runner enter the cHeltenham Festival winner's spot in the next couple of years. Keep an eye out for James Ewart who will be eyeing a similar achievement in years to come.
Congratulations to David Parry and his partners on a fine performance by Nine De Sivola, just pipped for second in the National Hunt Chase. I would imagine the Scottish Grand National would be the next target, a race in which Nine De Sivola was second in 2007.
Another performer who has shown up well on the Scottish circuit this year is Knockara Beau who lost nothing in defeat when an excellent fifth for George Charlton in the Ballymore Properties Hurdle.
I'd questioned whether Kalahari King would be good enough to win the Arkle Chase, but Ferdy Murphy's gelding was inches away from proving me wrong. A fine effort and maybe a Queen Mother Champion Chase challenger in future.