MELISSA JONES WRITES: Welsh impress north of the border

THE Peter Bowen trained Al Co ran the race of his life to capture last Saturday's Scottish National at Ayr.

He was impressive at Chepstow earlier on in the season but let's not forget this was a big step up on his recent efforts.

One feels Peter Bowen had been planning a raid on this historic marathon and he pulled off the feat to great effect at odds of 40-1, although he had to survive a few heart-stopping moments on the run-in as jockey Jamie Moore was nearly unshipped from the jinking nine-year-old.

Court Minstrel, the focus of this column last week, was another Welsh raider to run a cracker in Scotland, mastering the free-going My Tent or Yours before being claimed late on by Cockney Sparrow in the Scottish Champion Hurdle.

Trainer Evan Williams, who may send his best horse on a trip to the Punchestown Festival, sends Hold Court up to Haydock this afternoon and he is capable of returning with first place prize money.

His success at Ludlow last time broke a losing run of over a year and with decent ground again he has solid claims, but it's best to back him each way as there are plenty of runners here.

Philip Hobbs' Val D'Arc looks an interesting recruit to chasing in the opener up there, aged just five.

He comes up against a lovely little horse in Kitegen but the Minehead inmate should have more scope than that hardy fellow.

The third selection for Saturday is Blaklion, ever so impressive at Ffos Llas and this one looks to have a bright future against rivals who may need more time.

Happy Easter and happy punting!

TODAY'S SELECTIONS: Haydock 1.30 Val D'Arcy, 2.40 Hold Court, 4.50 Blaklion

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