Concerted effort by Greatrex’s Bob Mahler to orchestrate Edinburgh National success a second time
Lambourn trainer Warren Greatrex’s Bob Mahler is looking to retain the Edinburgh National title on Musselburgh’s opening day of the bet365 Scottish Cheltenham Trials weekend on Saturday.
Likely favourite in the 12-strong field for the £30,000 four mile feature race is The Ferry Master, who has won his last two races at Newcastle and Kelso for Berwickshire trainer Sandy Thomson.
Also in the line up are last year’s fourth, Little Bruce (Philip Kirby), and the first and second in December’s Scottish Borders National at Kelso, Dino Boy (Iain Jardine) and Classic Escape (Dr Richard Newland).
Eleven-time champion trainer Paul Nichols, who recorded a treble on this card 12 months ago, saddles Christopher Wood in the bet365 Scottish County Hurdle. The Somerset raider, third in Grade1 company at Aintree in 2019, was an impressive course and distance scorer at Musselburgh last season.
The Donald McCain-trained Blakeney Point bids to follow up his New Year’s Day strike at Musselburgh in the Hogmaneigh Handicap Hurdle under champion jockey Brian Hughes.
With more than £215,000 in prize money over the weekend, Musselburgh Racecourse general manager Bill Farnsworth, is keeping a close eye on the weather forecast for the Sunday fixture at which ITV will broadcast four live races.
He said: “We normally escape a lot of the adverse weather at Musselburgh but it has been unusually wet and we have had our fair share of rain in January.
“The ground is soft but we have saved fresh ground for this meeting and our ground staff have done an excellent job in moving all the fences and hurdles, so we have the best ground possible
“The showery weather is to continue through Friday and Saturday so prospects for Saturday look ok, but on Saturday night temperatures are forecast to fall at the start of what is going to be a very cold week.
“While Musselburgh is at sea level there is a risk that we will get snow and can’t rule it out, so it is a waiting game and we will keep our fingers crossed that Musselburgh dodges it, which it usually does.”