Fruity camp confident ahead of National service

Fruity O'Rooney, right, jumps alongside Pentiffic in the JLT Specialty Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival
Fruity O'Rooney, right, jumps alongside Pentiffic in the JLT Specialty Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival
Markov and jockey Tom Bellamyon their way to victory. Picture: Fontwell Park

Honeyball hat-trick lights up Fontwell

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Fruity O’Rooney will contest the Scottish Grand National at Ayr on Saturday (3.25pm).

And his owners reckon the three-time Fontwell winner has a great chance of landing the famous Grade 3 handicap chase – which is worth a six-figure sum to the victor.

The nine-year-old son of Kahyasi is currently priced at 20/1 to snatch glory across the border.

He gave his chances a major boost when finishing a wonderful second to Alfie Sherrin in the JLT Specialty Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last month.

At Prestbury Park, he turned in a characteristic front-running display under jockey Jamie Moore.

Fruity O’Rooney bravely led over the last fence of the three-mile race, only to be denied victory in the final furlong.

A similar game plan saw him take a valuable Boxing Day chase at Kempton, while also clinging on to third in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster – despite Moore’s saddle slipping.

He is likely to be prominent again on Saturday, although is facing an even greater test of stamina.

Much like the Grand National at Aintree – won by Neptune Collonges last weekend – the Scottish National is run over a marathon trip.

At an extended four miles, the race will take some serious winning.

But the diminutive chaser has the region’s backing to deliver.

Eloise Penny, of owners Heart of the South Racing, said: ‘Fruity made a name for himself last winter, scoring a hat-trick at Fontwell.

‘In the process, he gained himself many local followers. His diminutive size, front-running style and flamboyant jumping make him thrilling to watch.

‘He now has fans as far away as Australia and has a live chance of winning one of the sport’s biggest prizes.’

Moore – son of trainer Gary Moore – will once again be in the saddle, as the team look to emulate previous winners such as Red Rum and Earth Summit. With his current handicap mark of 145, Fruity O’Rooney will carry an ideal racing weight of 10st 13lb in the race.

n Meanwhile, Fontwell host a seven-race card tomorrow. The first contest goes to post at 2pm.