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Ayr – Preview 20th December 2023

Gordon Brown – Race Reporter

Gordon has a wealth of experience of racing through his background in the written and broadcast media. His current principle role is reporting and supporting the scene in Scotland on Racing TV and relaying the latest news with Scottish angles.

SOFT RISK bids to defy a lengthy absence as he makes an eagerly-anticipated debut over fences at Ayr on Wednesday.

Trained by Nicky Richards and ridden by Sean Quinlan, he lines up for the Win Your Weddings At Western House Novices’ Handicap Chase having not been seen in action since his close second in a handicap hurdle at the 2022 Scottish Grand National festival.

“It’s a long time off but we’ve given him plenty of time to recover as he’s a horse we think a fair lot about,” Richards said of the gelding, who carries the colours of former Carlisle racecourse chairman James Westoll.

“He had the equine version of an MOT and everything came up clear so it’s all systems go hopefully. His owner is one of the best and has been very patient – let’s see what he can do for him over fences now as he certainly built to be a chaser.”

Sean Bowen, the runaway leader in his quest for a first jockeys’ championship, makes the journey north for just two mounts starting with Olly Murphy’s Here Comes McCoy in the Merry Christmas From Western House Hotel Handicap Hurdle.

Junker D’Allier, a recent nose runner-up over course and distance and also trained by Murphy, is his other ride in the Merry Christmas From Ayr Racecourse Open Maiden National Hunt Flat Race.