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Williams struggling to separate Scottish National hopes

Christian Williams is finding it difficult to split Kitty’s Light and Win My Wings as the stablemates prepare to lock horns in Saturday’s Coral Scottish Grand National.

Kitty’s Light is the ante-post favourite for the Ayr marathon and would not be winning out of turn, having filled the runner-up spot in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown, the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and Coral Trophy at Kempton in the past 12 months.

The six-year-old will be tackling four miles for the first time in this weekend’s feature event and Williams expects him to give another good account.

He said: “It would be great to see him win, but at the same time he’s been a great horse to own and I think he’s won £70,000 in prize-money this season without winning, so I don’t want to get too greedy.

Christian Williams has a strong hand in the Scottish Grand National
Christian Williams has a strong hand in the Scottish Grand National (Adam Davy/PA)

“He’s only a six-year-old and we’ve ran him on tracks this year that wouldn’t have obviously suited him as we just didn’t want to run him on bottomless ground through the winter.

“His last three runs have been at Kempton, which would be a little bit sharp for him, but hopefully that experience will have sharpened up his jumping.

“We said we’d give him one crack at four miles this year. I don’t want him to run him over this trip too many times as we want him to be running in Grand Nationals when he’s seven, eight, nine and 10.

“He’s a staying horse and it looks like everything will suit him, but with 24 runners you obviously need a lot of luck.”

On the same afternoon Kitty’s Light found only another stable companion in Cap Du Nord too strong at Kempton, Win My Wings landed the Eider Chase at Newcastle to complete a memorable day for the trainer.

With Jack Tudor partnering Kitty’s Light, Williams has booked top Irish amateur Rob James to claim a handy 7lb off Win My Wings.

“We think we’re going there with two good chances and probably wouldn’t swap them for too much else in the race,” he added.

“Kitty’s Light is obviously a good horse, but you couldn’t help but be impressed by the way the Win My Wings won the Eider. I think she traded odds-on from the turn in, which is a long way from home at Newcastle and to do that in a race like the Eider Chase shows she’s a good mare.

“I thought the handicapper was harsh afterwards as she was 2lb well-in on the day and he’s put her up another 6lb. I was scratching my head thinking what we could do to give her the best chance of winning a Scottish National and we decided we’d book Rob James to take 7lb off her back.

“Rob has won a lot of point-to-points and has ridden in seven or eight of those big amateur races at Cheltenham, so he has plenty of experience.”

Dan Skelton has high hopes for Ashtown Lad, who was last seen finishing third behind star Scottish novice Ahoy Senor in the Towton at Wetherby.

“He shapes to me like a stayer and I’m really happy with him,” said Skelton.

“I’ve kept him fresh for this. You don’t know you stay this trip until you try it, but I’m really looking forward to it. Ground won’t be a problem.”

Innisfree Lad was beaten just over eight lengths into third place by Win My Wings in the Eider and trainer David Dennis has booked champion jockey-elect Brian Hughes for the rematch.

Chirico Vallis at Warwick
Chirico Vallis at Warwick (Simon Marper/PA)

He said: “For me he put up his career best last season in April (when winning at Haydock), so he seems to come to himself in the spring on better ground generally so I’d be hopeful.

“He clearly stays. His third in the Eider highlights the fact he’s a very good stayer, which is why we’re running him.”

Neil Mulholland believes JP McManus-owned outsider Chirico Vallis could outrun his odds, saying: “He has run consistently this year and always has done. Hopefully he can do it again.

“He won at Chepstow, beating Kitty’s Light, who is quite well fancied and hopefully he can run well and see how he goes.”

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