The bet365 Scottish Cheltenham Trials is attracting big names!
Confirming the appeal of Musselburgh Racecourse’s bet365 Scottish Cheltenham Trials which benefits from a significant increase in prize money, legendary trainer Paul Nicholls is expected to make his first appearance at the East Lothian course this weekend.
Thursday 1st February 2024
Little wonder the two-day fixture, (3 and 4 February) which includes Musselburgh’s first £100,000 jumps race and a total £430,000 prize fund, has caught the eye of the 14 times champion trainer and his contemporaries.
In Saturday’s big ticket race, the bet365 Edinburgh National which at over 4 miles is a top draw for the country’s leading stayers, last year’s comfortable winner Magna Sam is among the thirteen declarations. Trained in Shropshire by Alistair Ralph, the ten-year-old will be looking for his fourth victory on this fifth visit to the track.
Liam Harrison and Fergal O’Brien, the Edinburgh National winning combination in 2022 with Captain Cattistock, are represented by Landen Calling, who won the Lincolnshire National at Market Rasen on Boxing Day.
Paul Nicholls, who boasts a 33 per-cent strike-rate with his Somerset raiders and has close to 150 Grade 1 winners to his credit, is double-handed with Truckers Lodge and Enrico, while Irish handler Gavin Cromwell saddles Peaches And Cream under rising star Ben Harvey and local favourite Lucinda Russell is responsible for another of the market principals, Inis Orr, who was fifth in the Lincolnshire equivalent.
The opening contest at 1.40pm, the £25,000 bet365 Frodon Novices’ Handicap Chase, carries the name of the horse ridden to so many memorable triumphs by Bryony Frost (course figures 6-16), who partners likely favourite Monmiral for Paul Nicholls.
Frodon actually won this contest under Sam Twiston-Davies in 2017 and is now spending his retirement with Bryony, who recorded a treble on this card in 2020 after enjoying her first strike under Rules on the same day five years earlier.
In the bet365 Scottish County Handicap Hurdle (2.50pm) Nicholls also runs Afadil, successful in last year’s Scottish Triumph Hurdle, but shouldering top-weight is Sandy Thomson’s Benson, a recent all-the-way winner of the Hogmaneigh Handicap Hurdle on New Year’s Day over 2m 4f.
Donald McCain’s Collingham and the Nicky Richard’s trained Parisencore, first and second twelve months ago, are also in a typically-competitive line-up for this £30,000 challenge.
Nicky Richards-trained Florida Dreams, a Grade 2 bumper winner at Aintree on Grand National day last season, carries the colours of Dundee United director Jimmy Fyffe, in the bet365 Scottish Stayers’ Novices’ Hurdle (3.25), while Midlothian owner Lynne Maclennon is represented by Got Your Back, an impressive maiden hurdle winner at Musselburgh in December for Donald McCain.
Musselburgh Racecourse general manager, Bill Farnsworth, said: “We are delighted with the quality of entries over both days and are looking forward to an excellent weekend of quality jumping at what is now established as one of the UK’s premier National Hunt festivals.”
Gate open on both days at 11.30am and provisional times for the first races are 1.40pm on Saturday and 1.20pm Sunday with the last race on both days at 4.35pm.
For more information and to book tickets visit www.musselburgh-racecourse.co.uk
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