Ayr Preview: Jack Steel and Tap Night a double chance for Russell
Scottish trainer Lucinda Russell looks to have an excellent chance of landing a double at Ayr today, courtesy of Jack Steel and Tap Night.
Both horses carry the famous green and gold colours of leading Irish owner JP McManus, and Jack Steel could well have got in lightly in the 2m handicap hurdle (14:00).
This gelding won a point in Ireland, and has shaped with plenty of promise in three runs over hurdles since joining Kinross-based Russell.
The five-year-old kept on nicely under tender handling to finish fifth at Wetherby and Kelso before catching the eye in no uncertain fashion when third of nine to Midnight Monty at Newcastle.
After being held-up at the rear, Jack Steel travelled strongly into the contest four from home before keeping on under a hands and heels ride to be beaten five lengths.
It was an effort which suggested he was being brought along with handicaps in mind, and an opening mark of 108 could well be on the lenient side.
Jack Steel looks the type who has plenty more to offer and, off just 10st 5lb, is weighted to take all the beating in the hands of in-form jockey Tom Scudamore.
Tap Night runs off a career-low mark in the 2m 5f handicap chase (15:05) and, with AP McCoy in the saddle, can take advantage to finally get his head in front to put and end to a frustrating long losing run.
The gelding developed into a useful novice chaser in 2013 when winning twice and finishing placed in some top grade affairs.
Those places included a very good second Rajdhani Express at this venue off an official rating of 153 and, although Tap Night has not scored since landing a novice chase over course and distance in February 2012, he has run a couple of solid races, which make him potentially thrown-in at the weights.
The eight-year-old finished third of 10 to Wishful Thinking in a class 1 contest over 2m 5f at Cheltenham last year, and a fast finishing third to Annacotty at the same venue three starts back off a mark of 130.
Tap Night is now able to race off just 128, and that is 17lb lower than when finishing fourth in this contest 12 months ago.
It gives the son of Pleasant Tap outstanding claims from a handicapping perspective at a track where he has won three times from five starts.
13:25 Different Gravey
14:00 Jack Steel (NB)
14:30 Racing Europe
15:05 Tap Night (NAP)
15:35 Pair Of Jacks
16:10 Spartan Angel
16:45 Arctic Court