Good ground forecast at Musselburgh this afternoon for their eight-race card and no further significant rain forecast.
Market leaders have won the opening Novice Hurdle four times in the last five years and I hope to see Fergal O’Brien’s Long Stay (12.20) follow up his impressive win in a Newton Abbott bumper on his hurdles debut. The selection – 7/4 with 10bet – has had a wind operation since winning that good ground bumper and no surprise to see this flat bred five-year-old go in search of better ground on this sharp track.
Bareback Jack won his sole point in his native Ireland over 2m 4f on soft ground and may just lack the necessary pace on his first start for Donald McCain. Lake Torranaga made all at Sedgefield on his hurdles debut but carries a 7lbs penalty for that success and will do well to maintain his unbeaten record over timber against a couple of promising newcomers.
Wise Coco (12.50) will appreciate the return to a right-hand track having jumped out to the right on her chase debut at Kelso when runner up behind a well-treated rival. The mare – 4s with Unibet – has yet to prove she stays two-and-a-half-miles, but today’s decent ground should help, and she receives a stone from the other principles Going Mobile and Brotherly Company.
Ratfacemacdougall (1.50) finished runner up at Hereford last time and looked ready for a return to three miles. The winner – Oscars Moonshine – has won his next couple and is now rated 23lbs higher and, with that in mind, a 4lbs rise for the selection is fair. Graeme McPherson’s seven-year-old – 7/4 with Boylesports – was fitted with a first-time visor at Hereford and the hope is that the headgear again works the oracle. Note the yard had a good winner at Ascot at the weekend.
Court Jurado (2.20) continues to frustrate, but this sharp two miles on decent ground should suit and he ran a terrific race here over hurdles when runner up from a 6lbs higher mark here last November. For a 3m point winner Donald McCain’s 6-y-old – 6s with BetVictor – barely stays the minimum trip under Rules, and he faded tamely when looking sure to be involved in the finish at Kelso – 2m 1f – last time.
The Bees Knees looks sure to make a bold bid from the front in the 2m handicap hurdle for Fergal O’Brien but I must give The Navigator (3.20) another chance, having gone out like a light at Carlisle last time when cantering going to two out. It is possible that his busy recent schedule has caught up with the grey, given that was his fourth run in a month, but trainer Dianne Sayer must feel he is working well after a three week break.
The selection receives 10lbs from the market leader and he is still well treated on his flat form. He is likely to be put away over the winter after today, given he needs decent ground to be seen at his best, and his stable could be in better form, but at 3/1 with William Hill he could still be well ahead of the handicapper.
William Buick would have been given the option of riding Local Law at Colwick Park for Charlie Appleby, but has decided to go to Kempton where I expect to see Romantic Song (5.20) leave the form of her Newmarket debut well behind on the switch to polytrack.
The filly was not given a hard time by Buick when it was obvious her chance of winning had gone on the Rowley Mile, and she is entitled to come on for the experience. The opening 5/6 looked big and, at the time of posting, she is a best price of 4/6 with BetVictor.