The Messenger has 3 bets on Scottosh National Day with Fagan the pick in the big won and Verdana Blue in the Champion Hurdle.
Ayr 2.55: Verdana Blue
Verdana Blue is very much a top of the ground performer (missed the Champion Hurdle itself due to the going) and was well beaten on soft in the Betfair at Newbury. Prior to that though she dotted up in an Ascot handicap in November and was a fast finishing third on unsuitably slow conditions in the big Grade 3 handicap there before Christmas. That run suggested she was still on a fair mark and she can call on top claimer James Bowen to assist.
Ayr 4.05: Fagan
Fagan was a high class novice over hurdles finishing second to Unowhatimeanharry in the 2016 Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham. That was on the typical good going you usually get at the Festival, similar to conditions he will face today. He got qualified for handicaps by running in the summer in novice races. He only won once – on good going at Perth, but his two other runs saw him finish second to Ballyandy over too short a trip and to Black Corton at Cheltenham which reads well now. Elliott has had him ready to run for some time, but has been waiting for the ground to come right, which it finally has now. He promises to stay forever and has an excellent record fresh.
Newbury 3.45: Afaak
Afaak is an obvious contender having run fine races on all three starts with cut. Latterly that included a narrow defeat in the Silver Cambridgeshire to recent runaway Lincoln winner Addeybb. He was also very impressive when winning a Doncaster handicap by 5l on soft last summer. He should have strengthened up for the winter off and could be a group horse in a handicap.
1pt win – Verdana Blue – 2.55 Ayr – 11/2 with Bet365 and Paddy Power
0.75pts each-way – Fagan – 4.05 Ayr aty 9/1 with Bet365 (1/4 odds 5 places)
1pt win – Afaak – 3.45 Newbury at 6/1 with BetVictor