Musselburgh Preview, 01/02/20

Saturday 1st February

Musselburgh 2.05
Scottish County Handicap Hurdle Class 2
1m7f124y – Going: Good to Soft (Soft in places) – 10 runners

L’Inganno Felice
Lightly raced and little form since taking the Summer Plate at Market Rasen in July 2018, indeed first completion over jumps since then when a weakening 5th in Hogmaneigh Hurdle at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day, having overdone the front running; led, clear, niggled along home turn, was closed on, mistake 3 out, hard ridden and headed approaching 2 out, hard driven and weakened approaching last, looked heavy-legged, dropped away and well held 5th to Sir Chauvelin. Needs a stone and a half of improvement to figure and that doesn’t look likely
Ready winner at Wincanton on reappearance, beating Grey Diamond 7 lengths, but some way off that when only 4th to Highly Prized at Huntingdon on November 12th, mistake 3rd, closer order from 4th, pulled wide and tracked leaders approaching 3 out, pushed along away from it, hard ridden home turn, not totally done with before mistake 2 out, weakened approaching last, no more run-in, well held. Normally waited with, he probably got into a prominent position too soon at Huntingdon and worth one more chance off a higher mark
Sir Chauvelin
Usually seen on the Flat nowadays, took advantage of a very strongly run race in Hogmaneigh Hurdle at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day – having been unable to go the pace throughout – when finally getting there after the last, having been at least niggled along for the whole race, surviving mistakes, and eventually beating Project Bluebook just over a length. That time the only place he looked like winning was after the last and this is unlikely to pan out the same way 
Won two novices last season; flopped on reappearance, but that time didn’t get a look-in against Totterdown on heavy going at Sandown. Showed what she can do at Kempton on December 27th, held up midfield to rear, keen and pulled her way into midfield 3rd, headway from 5th, edged closer still after 3 out travelling comfortably, chased leader home turn, produced to challenge on the bit approaching 2 out, shaken up, led between last 2, a length and a half up last, ridden, stayed on well to draw clear, readily beat Elusive Belle. Unexposed but has lacked consistency up to now
Modest on the Flat; won first two hurdle races. Tried in a good handicap last time, albeit a small-field one, might not have acted on the heavy ground when well-held 3rd of four to Elvis Mail at Kelso on January 12th, disputed lead approaching 3 out, ridden into it, moved largely comfortably home turn, led and niggled along off the bend, soon more firmly ridden along, hung right approaching 2 out, headed, put under pressure, faded approaching last, well held when mistake, kept on a bit last 100 yards.  A course winner on the level, not to be dismissed lightly
Novice who won two of his first three hurdle races; first handicap last time and from the home turn to after the second last looked the winner in Hogmaneigh Hurdle at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day, prominent from 4th, chased leader home turn and moved comfortably, in close to 3 out, led on the bit nearing 2 out, shaken up, soon put under pressure, didn’t stay on, headed last, faded run-in, was losing ground on the 1st 2 last 125 yards. Looked the winner and didn’t win – ignoring Sir Chauvelin’s turning up from the proverbial nowhere, he was beaten for 2nd by a horse going much worse than him – Project Bluebook, the eventual 2nd – approaching the second last, who himself took Ashington’s measure at the last. Good chance, but he’s got to be held on to for longer
Won his novice at Sedgefield in December. Put in a handicap on his fourth hurdles run, rather ran into one at Musselburgh on January 17th, led, ridden into 5th, moved largely comfortably off home turn, niggled along approaching 2 out, ridden into 2 out, hard driven approaching last, headed nearing it, driven and no impression as The Mouse Doctor went clear run-in, kept on. Left on the same mark, could run well again
Ran okay in the end but moved worst of the field with three to jump when eventually staying on into 2nd behind Magna Cartor at Southwell in June, jumping left throughout. Didn’t run much of a race when last seen in Listed handicap hurdle at Sandown in December, midfield when mistake 3 out and niggled along away from it, made ground and in contention though niggled turning out of back straight, pushed along off home turn, steered inner, put under pressure and weakened approaching 2 out, blundered there, continued to drop away looking tired, tailed off behind Mack The Man. Not for me going right handed
One win from five over hurdles. Not the most consistent but it looked a best-to-date last time at Newcastle on January 4th, albeit in a race run at a steady pace,  led 4th, headed home turn, chased leader turning in as pace increased, ridden and outpaced going to 2 out, put under pressure, was 5 lengths 4th jumping, stayed on into 3rd 175 yards out, stayed on one pace, going on okay at the end behind Gennady. Steps up in class but unexposed over hurdles
For Three 
Won twice at Hexham in May (his only career wins), on the second occasion in handicap company taking a 0-125 event, held up, closer order and tracked leaders 3 out, closed up going best 2 out, pushed along home turn, led straightening, a neck up last, driven along, stayed on well under pressure, didn’t have much in hand over Fanzio. Nothing much over hurdles in October or on the all-weather at Newcastle in January on two runs since, in the latter pulling way too hard up with the pace and dropping right away in the final two furlongs. Not sure what to make of this one

Shortlist: Sebastopol, Miranda, Kaizer

Musselburgh 3.15
Edinburgh National Handicap Chase Class 2 0-150
4m176y – Going: Good to Soft (Soft in places) – 10 runners

Carole’s Destrier
After an early unseat in void London National at Sandown on reappearance, ran well to a point before finished weakly in Veterans’ Final at Sandown on January 4th, up with the pace throughout and bang there passing the omitted Pond Fence before short of room home turn and weakening, well held last behind Jepeck. With a poor record over 3m7f or more and on sharp tracks, not for me here
Little Bruce*
Stayed on strongly to win North Yorkshire Grand National at Catterick last time, hased leader 17th, ridden along 20th, every chance 3 out, ridden, only a head down jumping 2 out, hard ridden, upsides last, led early on run-in, went left under a ride, ridden out, stayed on strongly to pull clear of the reopposing Sumkindofking last 150 yards. Not out of the first two when completing over 3m4f or more, looks sure to be thereabouts going over 4m+ for the first time
Wonderful Charm
On this card in 2018 won the 3m2f hunters’ chase. Still contesting hunters last season, won at Doncaster in February 2019,  led on the bit 4 out, ridden into 3 out, not hard pressed to draw clear before 2 out, at no point shaken up and further clear by last, strolled in from Boa Island, then in contrast made heavy weather of landing Horse And Hound Cup at Stratford, hard ridden with 2 lengths to find home turn, mistake last, hard driven, got up post from Caryto Des Brosses. On his first run since, probably no favourite’s chance but the trip’s in his favour
Bob Mahler*
The uphill finish at Cheltenham suited him a treat when winning there in April from Little Bruce, put under pressure 3 out, closed on 1st 2 approaching home turn, mistake 2 out, hard driven, stayed on well approaching last, within a length jumping, sustained effort under pressure, led 175 yards out, ridden clear and shaping as though he’d stay further. Went lazily through the race when runner-up at Doncaster last time, constantly niggled along from 8th and jumped slightly right, hard ridden into 11th, headed 5 out, ridden and stayed with new leader going to 4 out, still every chance to 3 out, hard driven and kept on going to 2 out, one pace going to last, no extra run-in and beaten 10 lengths by Boldmere. May well run lazily again but likely to stay
Arthur’s Gift
Good 2nd at Bangor in November, stayed on approaching 2 out, no more under pressure approaching last, mistake, kept on, no impression behind Graceful Legend, then did little in Welsh Grand National at Chepstow last time, pushed along 16th, kept on and just about in contention in rear of main group approaching 5 out, hard ridden and some 7 lengths down 4 out, driven, weakened before and after 3 out, 7th to Potters Corner. Up to now he has a poor record over extreme distances coming into this, but this isn’t as deep a race as either the Midlands (pulled up back in March) or the Welsh Nationals, so I don’t think he can be thrown out
Best form of the season so far when 2nd in North Yorkshire Grand National at Catterick, midfield, mistake 12th, headway and prominent 17th, disputed 3rd home turn moving comfortably, ridden 3 out, effort and led narrowly 2 out, hard ridden, upsides last, headed early on run-in, ground taken by Little Bruce 175 yards out, ridden and no extra last 100 yards. Should go well
Brian Boranha*
Hadn’t been near his form in winning Durham National at Sedgefield in 2018 for a while, but seemed to return to his best when just getting the worst of it against Little Bruce and Sumkindofking when falling last in North Yorkshire Grand National at Catterick, raced wide, headway 13th, closer order 17th going comfortably, ridden along 21st, disputed 3rd approaching home turn, came back on the bit 3 out and travelled comfortably a length and a bit down approaching next, half a length down 2 out, ridden, kept on but no extra between last 2 and beginning to look held when fell last. He wouldn’t have been beaten far and a good run wouldn’t be a surprise
Chic Name
Good efforts in cross country chases at Cheltenham last two starts, matching his good 5th to Tiger Roll at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, although not entirely satisfactory when last seen out in December, often niggled along, tracked leaders 19th, again losing ground when blundered 22nd, dropped rear, hard ridden approaching 25th, going worst of the field after next, stayed on approaching 2 out under a ride, sustained effort under pressure approaching last, passed beaten ones and was closing on the 3rd at the post. Won the Highland National at Perth in 2018 and can’t be dismissed, for all he’s not straightforward
Blow By Blow
Lost his way badly when with Gordon Elliott and has lagged his handicap mark every run since joining present connections, running close in a Leicester seller in december which I make only 96 on my ratings, nothing much last time and completely blew out on only chase start for current connections at Haydock in November, struggling and ridden/reminders after 9th, started to tail off 10th, mistake 11th, pulled up before 14th behind Crievehill. Safe elimination
Harry The Viking
For all that he won the Borders National at Kelso in December 2018 aged 13 (putting in a round of jumping which was a joy to watch that time), sadly he’s run like a horse of his age on his most recent runs, pulled up in the Highland equivalent at Perth in April and on his reappearance and only start so far this season at Carlisle in November. Only five horses, from 139 runners, have won a race aged 15 since 2008 (Flat and jumps, Britain and Ireland), and none better than Class 4

Shortlist: Little Bruce, Bob Mahler, Sumkindofking, Brian Boranha

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