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It’s heavy going for McCoy in National

Friends and rivals Tony McCoy and Ruby Walsh will go head to head on Paul Nicholls-trained horses in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr today with the Ulsterman at a distinct disadvantage.

Champion jockey McCoy and Neptune Collonges will concede over a stone all round — which will see them go off at a big price — while Walsh’s mount, The Minack, is among the favourites.

But the Gordon Elliott-trained Chicago Grey heads the betting after claiming victory in the National Hunt Chase at last month’s Cheltenham Festival.

“The horse is in good form and we're looking forward to it,” said Elliott.

Ulster jockey Peter Buchanan rides Gansey.

Meanwhile, jockey Tom Queally is confident a lack of race fitness will not be a problem for Frankel when he makes his eagerly anticipated return to action in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury today.

Following an unbeaten juvenile campaign culminating in a brilliant display in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, Henry Cecil's star colt heads the Classic markets for both the Qipco 2000 Guineas and the Investec Derby.

Cecil has admitted a slight concern about the readiness of his string at this early stage of the season, with one or two youngsters disappointing at the Craven meeting earlier this week.

But Queally believes Frankel is so exceptional, he may not even need to be at his best to make a winning comeback.

“The trial race isn't really going to tell us a lot other than how fit he is and what sort of shape he'd go to the Guineas in,” he said.

“I hope he doesn't have to be fit because then he'll have a lot in reserve, but he's fairly fit and he's had a good preparation.

“This horse is quite athletic, so you'd be hoping fitness wouldn't be an issue. We'll get him out, get a run into him and see where we're at.”

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