Friday 1st June 2012
It’s only the third year of running but the Totepool Edinburgh Cup appears to have grabbed the attention of the UK’s leading trainers, according to Musselburgh Racecourse boss Bill Farnsworth.
And the icing on the cake is race goers are voting with their feet with advance sales for the Derby Day fixture up on last year and a crowd of 6000-plus forecast tomorrow. (Sat 2 June)
Despite strong supporting fixtures to the Epsom Derby at Haydock and Beverley, former Classic winning yards including Andrew Balding, Gerard Butler, Luca Cumani and Michael Bell, have opted for the longer journey to East Lothian. Not to be outdone, representing the leading Northern stables will be Mark Johnson, Alan Swinbank, Kevin Ryan and Richard Fahey.
Farnsworth said: “The Edinburgh Cup fixture is still in its infancy but it seems to be gaining in credibility and profile and I am delighted not only with the quality of entries but also the wide spread of horses competing from across the UK’s leading training yards. It is all part of a long process but if fortune and sponsors favours us, the end game would be to have a £100,000 Edinburgh Cup run at Musselburgh.”
A maximum field has been declared for highlight feature, the £50,000 totepool.com Edinburgh Cup and Newmarket trainers Luca Cumani and Michael Bell will be represented by Commitment and Ruacana. The in-form Andrew Balding whose Bonfire has a leading chance in the Investec Derby at Epsom, sends Stature on the long journey north from his Kingsclere Stables near Newbury but despite their quality, the southern raiders may have to play second fiddle to their northern based rivals.
Middleham-based Mark Johnston, successful last year with Eternal Heart, runs five horses and pick of the quintet could be the lightly raced Maastricht. The three year old returned from an eight month break to run the progressive Handsome Man to a hard fought neck at Newmarket in May. Considering that Maastricht raced on his own down the far side of the course for the final five furlongs, this was a sterling effort and Maastricht is narrowly preferred to fellow northern challenger Sparkling Portrait. Richard Fahey's cleverly named colt by Excellent Art, also made much of the running in his last race at Newmarket to hold the persistent threat of Deja Sunrise. With the Fahey stable in a rich vein of form, Sparkling Portrait should run a big race.
The first four races on the Musselburgh card are all televised by Channel 4, starting at 1.55 with the toteplacepot Edinburgh Castle Stakes. This £20,000 conditions race for two year olds sees the reappearance of Rhagori Aur, such an impressive winner on her debut at Thirsk. Bryan Smart, the filly's trainer, has an excellent strike rate in juvenile events at Musselburgh and his speedy filly by Exceed And Excel can prove too classy for the previous course winner Tatlisu.
The £20,000 totepool Tradesman's Derby at 2.25 provides Rocktherunway with a sporting chance of building on his commanding victory at Newcastle. Michael Dods' consistent three year old had earlier gone close at Thirsk and should be suited to 12 furlongs round Musselburgh.
Kevin Ryan holds a strong hand in the £40,000 totescoop6 Scottish Sprint Cup. His top weight Bajan Tryst is a major contender but stablemate Partner, still on an attractive mark and a decisive winner of a similar Class 2 Sprint at Thirsk, will be hard to beat. Partner holds Excel Bolt on Thirsk running but could be hard pressed by Foxy Music who was a close fourth at Thirsk and is trained by Eric Alston whose team is back among the winners.
Gates open at 11.30am and first race is off at 1.55pm