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Best of British On Show At Musselburgh’s bet365 £270,000 Scottish Cheltenham Trials Festival

Best of British On Show At Musselburgh’s bet365 £270,000 Scottish Cheltenham Trials Festival

Best of British On Show At Musselburgh’s bet365 £270,000 Scottish Cheltenham Trials Festival

 

The bet365 Scottish Cheltenham Trials Festival welcomes the best of British racing to Musselburgh Racecourse this weekend. With more than £270,000 in prize money over the two days (1 and 2 Feb), quality is to the fore with entries from the leading yards in the north and south.

In Saturday’s feature race, the £45,000 bet365 Edinburgh National, Little Bruce has been installed as clear favourite at around 4-1 as he bids to add another ‘national’ to the one he bagged at Catterick earlier this month. Trained near Scotch Corner by Philip Kirby and ridden by Tommy Dowson, he is one of 15 entries and is in good form having landed the North Yorkshire equivalent at his local track off a 6lb lower mark three weeks ago.

The opposition is headed by Dan Skelton-trained Very First Time, the winner of three races this season, most recently when scoring by six-lengths at Doncaster on Saturday. Richard Hobson’s Cheltenham raider Chic Name is entered in the 4 mile 1 furlong contest and was not disgraced when eighth in last April’s Scottish Grand National, while Brian Boranha represents Malton handler Peter Niven, who as a jockey rode on the opening Musselburgh jumps card in 1987.

In the £35,000 bet365 Scottish County Hurdle, Jim Goldie’s Sir Chauvelin is expected to try for a fifth course and distance strike at the East Lothian venue.

A short-priced favourite when fourth in the 2018 Scottish County Hurdle, his most recent Musselburgh success came in the Hogmaneigh Hurdle on New Year’s Day and he races in the colours of Dundee United director Jimmy Fyffe.

Current champion jumps trainer Paul Nicholls, winner of this race in 2017 with subsequent Grade 1 scorer Diego Du Charmil, is triple-handed with Miranda, Scaramanga and Bathsheba Bay. Donald McCain’s Dear Sire, the winner two years ago, is also among the entries along with John Quinn’s dual course winners Ashington and Project Bluebook.

In the bet365 Scottish Champion Chase the top-rated entry is Ruth Jefferson-trained Double W’s on a BHA mark of 140, while Brian Ellison-trained Ballyvic Boru, a national hunt flat race winner at Musselburgh during his younger days, appears for the second time since having wind surgery. Also entered, Cracking Destiny, who changed hands for £35,000 last May, has won and finished second in two Musselburgh runs since joining Hawick trainer Alistair Whillans.

Paul Nicholls’ Wonderful Charm, who has contested six Cheltenham Festivals, won the 2017 and 2018 renewals of the bet365 Scottish Foxhunter Open Hunters’ Chase and is among the 14 entries.

On Sunday, the richest pot on offer is the £35,000 bet365 Scottish Triumph Hurdle. Jockey Daryl Jacob took the 2018 renewal with the Nicky Henderson trained We Have A Dream which went on to win at Aintree’s Grand National Festival, and the Irishman has been booked for the ride on Goa Lil, an all-the-way winner at Kempton earlier this month for Nigel Twiston-Davies.

Henderson, who has won this twice in the past with useful types, is represented by precocious Palladium, which he said could target one of the Cheltenham Festival juvenile events after his romp at Sandown earlier this month. The Seven Barrows trainer has an overall Musselburgh strike-rate of twelve winners from 42 runners (29 per-cent) and enjoys his visits to the East Lothian course.

Irish trainer John McConnell has saddled winners at Musselburgh in the past and he is double-handed with Anna Bunina and impressive New Year’s Day course and distance scorer Never Do Nothing.

Scotland’s leading Flat trainer Keith Dalgleish could also run two horses as he has entered Three Castle and December course winner El Picador who is co-owned by Hamilton Park chairman Sir Ian Good and his daughter Catriona.

Entries for the £20,000 bet365 Scottish Supreme Novices’ Hurdle include Nicky Henderson-trained Fred and Paul Nicholls’ Ecco, who were separated by four and half lengths when first and second at Kempton on Boxing Day. Peter Niven, the first Scottish jockey to ride more than 1000 winners, could bring course and distance winner Malystic, who romped home by a mighty 17 lengths last time out at Musselburgh in December.

In the concluding bet365 Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race, Scottish owner Thomas Barr has entered December Chepstow runner-up Mortlach. Paul Nicholls has already secured the services of Harry Cobden who has ridden two winners from just seven previous rides at Musselburgh. 

Musselburgh Racecourse general manager, Bill Farnsworth, said: “The track is in excellent condition, and if there is some rain as predicted, the ground should be able to handle that fine without becoming too soft. There are some excellent entries, serious prize money and with the prospect of some fascinating contests between our best trainers, we are really looking forward to staging a first class weekend of jumps racing.”

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