Musselburgh Racecard Preview – Saturday 1st January 2022
Friday 31st December 2021
Betway First Foot Juvenile Hurdle
The opening contest is a juvenile hurdle for four year olds. The race has been won twice in the past three years by John McConnell, who this year saddles Meritorious who was previously trained by John and Thady Gosden and ended his time under their care with a win over 1m4f at Newmarket in May. This is his first start for McConnell and if he takes to hurdling, he could be a bright prospect for the yard. Another horse having their first run for a new trained is Individualise, a French bred gelding who is now in training with Paul Nicholls. The son of Cima De Triomphe showed plenty of promise in three starts in the flat in France and is another who could be anything now trying his hand at the jumps game.
While both horses are interesting, the horse to beat the course-and-distance winner Collingham, who although has to carry a penalty and concede with to the two newcomers, he has winning form and his trainer and jockey are in red-hot form.
Betway Novices’ Handicap Chase
A field of six go to post for this two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase for horses race 0-110. The lightly raced Pitemptom Power is going to be the horse to beat if he turns up in the same form as he was just over two weeks ago at Carlisle. Arguably, his best form is over two miles, but this is a quick track and the ground will be quicker than what he faced on his most recent start, so it should be OK for him.
Carry On The Magic is another raider from Paul Nicholls’ somerset base and this drop back in trip on quicker ground will be a huge plus to him. He was tanking along last time when an obvious non-stayer over three miles and this very unexposed eight year old could have much more to give in handicaps over fences.
Betway Hair Of The Dog Handicap Hurdle
It’s very hard to know the consistency of Kavanaghs Cross who hasn’t been out of the first three on each of his last six starts. The ex-Irish trained gelding is now under the tutelage of the shrewd Iain Jardine and a drop back in trip to two miles last time saw the six year old win at Kelso earlier in December. He ran as if he would appreciate this step up in trip again on this slightly sharper course and his most recent riding tactics of being help up having worked wonders on him.
The Brian Ellison trained Ashington has run well here in the past – including winning a novice hurdle here in 2019 – and although his recent spin on the flat was largely underwhelming, it would have put him spot on for this, which would have no doubt been a target for his connections.
Stoner’s Choice is now only 1lb higher than his latest winning mark and he showed last time that he would likely appreciate coming back in trip and can also run a big race under Max Kendrick.
Betway Hogmaneigh Handicap Hurdle
Trainer Ann Hamilton will be overawed by the fact that her stable star Tommy’s Oscar is now rated 150, but it does make his task slightly harder in these handicaps. He’s a very strong travelling horse who will give his young rider Tom Midgley a great spin. However, if he wins this off 150 (minus his rider’s claim), then he’s going to be rated in the high 150’s and to put that into perspective, recent Grade 1 winner Not So Sleepy is rated 160. I think he may have found his ceiling, so with that in mind, the two against the field in this are Christopher Wood and Anna Bunina.
The first named horse is yet another horse from Paul Nicholls’ yard, but I’d be incredibly surprised if this hasn’t been his season-long target. He’s got good course winning form here, (2/2) and won the Scottish County Hurdle here in February and I’m sure that’s when his trainer would have scoped out this race for him. He hasn’t been at his best in two runs this season, but you can be sure he’ll be spot on here.
The other horse, Anna Bunina, showed lots of improvement last season and wasn’t beaten far in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham. Her season capped off with a second in the Scottish Champion Hurdle and that form is the best in the race and for that reason, she has to enter calculations. On her only run at Musselburgh, she was third in the Scottish Triumph Hurdle and is likely to play a part in this contest, on her first run of the season.
Betway “Auld Reekie” Handicap Chase
A small but select field has been declared for the Betway “Auld Reekie” Handicap Chase and it’s hard to be able to make a case for all of the runners. I’m sure you could run this race five times and you’d get a different result each time; it’s very competitive!
Amour De Nuit is the likely favourite and has shown good form in two runs this season, finishing third on both starts. Some of his better form has come on more galloping tracks and may come undone on this more speed driven course. However, he is well handicapped and has a touch of class about him on a going day.
Gaelik Coast finished behind Amour De Nuit at Newbury last time but slipped on his way to the first fence and never got going after that, so I’m inclined to put a line through that run. He’ll be much more suited back around this course and could yet give his connections another winner at this course.
It’s not come together for Nietzsche this season, as of yet, but he’s a very smart horse and can’t be underestimated off a mark of 127. He won a listed contest over fences last season and in 2018, won the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham. It’ll fall into place for him soon.
Play 4 To Win At Betway Handicap Hurdle
The final race of the day is a Handicap Hurdle over three miles. Coolbane Boy was tanking around his on his most recent start when he made a howling blunder 3 out, which put paid to his chances. If he runs to that form again, he won’t be far away for Sandy Thomson and Ryan Mania.
It’ll be a challenge for the course commentator with both Coolbane Boy and Cooldine Bog in the race, especially as both of them have had previous careers in Ireland and have similar profiles!
The latter named is having his first start for Fergal O’Brien and if he runs to anything like his best form in Ireland, when rated a career high 128, he could be well ahead of his English mark as he runs off 118 here.
By Chad Yeomans, Betway
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