Trainer Alan King hoping to come out on top with Dingo Dollar in Scottish Grand National at his old Ayr haunt
- Alan King’s affinity with Ayr would make victory at the Scottish National special
- Dingo Dollar, trained by King, runs in the big race on Saturday afternoon
- King previously tasted victory at Ayr in 2013 with Godsmejudge
Trainer Alan King was showing his son Henry around Ayr racecourse. It’s a place which holds fond memories for him and they will be even fonder if he can win the Scottish Grand National for a second time with Dingo Dollar on Saturday afternoon.
King may be now be based in Wiltshire but his roots are Scottish with a close affinity to the track on the west coast of Scotland.
The 52-year-old was born into a Lanarkshire farming family and gained some of his first experiences of horses at the local pony club.
Alan King’s close affinity with Ayr would make victory at the Scottish Grand National special
King cut his racing teeth with former trainer John Wilson, who used to train at Cree Lodge, the stable which was alongside Ayr racecourse but is now the site of buildings which provide accommodation for students at the town’s university.
On Friday Wilson was acting as chairman of the steward panel on day one of Ayr’s Scottish National meeting but he recalled the part King played in the preparation of the tricky gelding Fabulous, winner of the 1984 Topham Handicap Chase at Aintree.
Wilson also remembered writing to renowned Gloucestershire-based trainer David Nicholson – a man known throughout racing as The Duke – asking him to take on a young man with aspirations to become a jockey.
King joined Nicholson as an amateur rider in 1985. The hopes of being a jockey never came to fruition but, after serving 15 years as Nicholson’s assistant trainer, he inherited the licence at his stable in December 1999.
Dingo Dollar, trained by King, runs in the Scottish National on Saturday afternoon
In the past 20 years, King has trained a heap of big race winners including the 2008 Champion Hurdle with Katchit and the 2007 Queen Mother Champion Chase with Voy Por Estudes.
However King’s Scottish roots made the success of Godsmejudge in the 2013 Scottish National one of his sweetest ever wins.
King said: ‘This is my old stomping ground. I am sad to see Cree Lodge is not here anymore. I worked for John for just over a year and he got me the job at The Duke’s. I was supposed to come back after six months but I didn’t, 15 years later I was still there.
‘Every year I come up for this meeting and try to make a weekend of it. My mother is still alive, I have two brothers and some great mates. I love coming up here and the facilities at Ayr for owners and trainers are fabulous.
‘Godsmejudge’s win was a very special day. It meant a lot and was very emotional. Gosdsmejudge was a progressive novice and looked the right type for the race. He didn’t really go on after that win, which was a shame, but he had his day in the sun.’
At seven-years-old Dingo Dollar, the mount of stable jockey Wayne Hutchinson, looks another potential improving horse.
He has only run four times this seasons but hasn’t won, but those runs include a third place to Sizing Tennessee in the Ladbrokes Trophy Handicap Chase at Newbury in December and second to Chidswell in the Grimthorpe Handicap Chase at Doncaster last month.
King previously tasted victory at Ayr in 2013 with Godsmejudge (centre)
King said he had had the Scottish National as a long-term target for Dingo Dollar. He added: ‘He finished second (to Crosshue Boy) in a novice chase at the meeting last year and we thought he was the sort he was the ideal sort for the Scottish National. The plan was hatched a year ago and, on the whole, he has run pretty well this season.
‘I experimented one day at Doncaster and dropped him in and he hated it so we are going to have to ride him pretty positively.
‘He is fresh and well and it is lovely ground which should suit him. Nobody knows whether he will get the (four-mile) trip but we will give it a go.’
A sell-out crowd of 18,500 will be at Ayr for a race which produces such punting interest that it has the fourth biggest betting turnover of the year.
The fact Paul Nicholls-trained Getaway Trump broke a track record when winning on Friday underlined that conditions will be fairly quick despite the course being watered.
Dingo Dollar, the long-time ante-post favourite was eased by Coral to 10-1. He is now one of three co-second favourites with Big River and top weight Beware The Bear.
The sponsor’s new 9-1 favourite is Sue Smith-trained Vintage Clouds, last year’s third who fell at the first fence in last Saturday’s Grand National.
Meanwhile, Nicholls, who also had a treble at Fontwell, has announced the retirement of Vicente, winner of the Scottish National in 2016 and 2017.