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Problema Tic can follow in Merigo’s Scottish National hoofprints

A highly promising novice fencing campaign has yet to translate to success this term for David Pipe’s Problema Tic – who has tumbled 10lbs down the official ratings since signing off the 2011/12 with a victory at – but there’s every reason to suspect that the seven-year-old will be able to throw down a substantial Scottish Grand National challenge and he can be backed at a 25/1 with the sponsors, Coral.

Pipe’s gelding finds himself significantly better off at the weights with several of his Ayr adversaries. He’s 1lb better off with Tour Des Champs, having finished 11 lengths in front of him last time out; 3lbs better off with Lively Baron despite beating that one some 25 lengths when they last met and intriguingly the seven-year-old is 12lbs better of with ante-post favourite Rival D’Estruval despite beating that rival by 11-and-a-quarter lengths in their bumper back in 2010.

A day of sunshine is forecast for Ayr today and with rain not expected tomorrow, the ground, heavy just yesterday, could dry out further than the current going description of soft. Although Problema Tic has won on soft ground, improvement underfoot will only aid his cause further with his ledger boasting four wins from five good ground starts.

Having posted his highest-placed finish of the season on his first run on good going at Aintree last time out it’s far from demanding to expect further improvement off 3lb lower than his last winning mark, achieved in a handicap chase at this very course in April last year.  That race has proved a fine indicator of a novice’s future Scottish Grand National chances, with last year’s big race first and second Merigo and (subsequent English Grand National winner) Aurora’s Encore both having won it in recent years.

Whilst the poor record of Aintree National runners who take on the Ayr equivalent in the same season – one place from 22 runners in the last 10 years – doesn’t reflect well on the chances of Aurora’s Encore, two runners in other handicaps at the Grand National meeting have gone on to score in the Ayr marathon in the same period, meaning Problematic’s run in the John Smith’s Handicap should stand him in good stead here.