Musselburgh Race Preview, Saturday 06/02/2021

Musselburgh, Saturday February 6th

Musselburgh 2.05
bet365 Scottish County Handicap Hurdle Class 2
1m7f214y – Going: Soft (Good to Soft in places) – 10 runners

Voix Du Reve
Ran only 12 lengths 4th to Epatante in the Fighting Fifth (SP 200/1), but appeared to confirm that was no fluke when running Blakeney Point close in Hogmaneigh Hurdle at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day,  upsides leader when mistake 6th, chased leader off home turn and niggled along, reached for 3 out, pushed along as leader quickened, led approaching 2 out, upsides jumping, stayed on for hands and heels, led nearing last, mistake and headed, put under pressure, stayed on last 150 yards, closed on winner last strides and only just held in the end. Chance again on that
Christopher Wood*
Best hurdles effort so far this season when 2nd at Kempton on December 27th, prominent 4th, travelled comfortably 3 out, with leaders home turn but caught widest of all, moved better than most off the bend, led nearing 2 out, pushed along, didn’t assert and was soon challenged, headed when mistake last, hard ridden, no impression as Cadzand drew clear last 150 yards. Can go well again
Dear Sire
Won this race in 2018. Failed to impress with his attitude when winning at Chepstow in October, headway on the bit approaching 3 out, tracked leaders and niggled along carrying head high approaching 2 out, pushed along after it, driven, the better jump and led last, ridden out and went left under a hand ride, drew clear of Friend Or Foe. Ran nowhere near that on next two hurdles runs (struggling back straight and pulled up before last behind War Lord at Haydock in November on latest hurdles outing) but seemingly back to his best in jumpers’ bumper at Newcastle last time, eld up, no forward move till angled wide and made ground on the bit 3f out, further ground and tracked leaders on the bit 2f out, shaken up entering final furlong, led narrowly, immediately challenged, 1st 2 pulled clear, stayed on well, just failed, beaten a short-head by Wise Eagle. Has his quirks but might do something
Locker Room Talk
On what turned out to be his last start for Nigel Twiston-Davies, won handicap chase at Kempton in October, disputed lead 1st, keen hold, definite lead 2nd, ridden into 3rd, disputed it 6th to 9th, moved largely comfortably home turn, travelled best passing omitted 3 out though several challengers near, ridden into 2 out, wandered left, joined up front, put under strong pressure, found extra to lead a length last, driven out, stayed on well enough to beat Crooks Peak. Presumably sold privately having been offered for £50,000 but not sold at the Doncaster Sales in December, his hurdles form gives him a chance on this first run for Stuart Coltherd, who’s sent out 3 winners from his last 63 runners (dating back to 2008) making their stable debut having left another yard
Never Do Nothing
When with John McConnell, won a juvenile hurdle at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day 2020; went off 100/1 in Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, midfield, mistakes,  held place to 2 out, faded off home turn under a ride, couldn’t find extra approaching last, looked held when steadied into it and mistake, well back run-in, 9th to Burning Victory. Only hurdles form since on what turned out to be his final start for that yard, at Limerick in June, chased tearaway leader, himself clear of the rest, pace slowed approaching 2nd then quickened approaching 3rd, mistake 6th, niggled along after 3 out, led home turn, was the 1st of the 3 leaders to be shaken up approaching 2 out, firmly ridden along, was joined and readily headed approaching 2 out, driven and no extra between last 2, faded, looked held when steadied into last, driven and kept on same pace last 150 yards, 3rd to Poseidon beaten just over 4 lengths. No form since joining Thomas Gibney, last time in Fishery Lane Hurdle
(4-y-o only) at Naas in November mistake 5th, niggled along and struggling to hold place approaching 3 out, more firmly pushed along approaching turn out of back straight, hard ridden home turn, faded approaching 2 out, well held when blundered, weakened further between last 2, tailed off behind Call Me Lyreen. Likely to set the pace, but not a lot else expected

Torigni*
Winner over hurdles in his native France; on second run for current connections, improved on the first (3rd to Albert’s Back at Wetherby in November) when 3rd to Cadzand and reopposing Christopher Wood at Kempton on December 27th, prominent 3 out, moved largely comfortably home turn, niggled along straightening, soon more firmly pushed along, stayed on once in line and  closed on leaders, chased leader when knocked down 2 out, hard driven, stayed on till no extra approaching last, kept on under pressure run-in, no impression but stuck to task. Wherever Christopher Wood finishes, this one shouldn’t be far away
Newtown Boy
Recent form has been good, winning at Musselburgh over 2m3f on December 7th, effort and led 2 out, hard driven between last 2, pricked ears, a length up when went right last, driven out, stayed on well to pull clear of The Blame Game last 200 yards; was 2nd to Buveur D’Air’s conqueror Navajo Pass at Musselburgh, again over 2m3f, on New Year’s Day, 3 to 4 lengths down 3 out, hard ridden, put under pressure approaching 2 out, drew clear of the others but no impression on winner under pressure approaching last, all out run-in, faded last 150 yards, was closed on by the 3rd last 50 yards. Won a jumpers’ bumper at Newcastle last time on January 20th beating Swaffham Bulbeck and, left on the same mark as when beaten by Navajo Pass, has chances
Blakeney Point
In his first handicap over hurdles, produced considerable improvement on previous hurdles form to win Hogmaneigh Hurdle at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day, midfield to rear but in close touch, raced wide 4th, made ground and tracked 1st 2 turning out of back straight, pushed along off home turn, 2 lengths to find 3 out, stayed on and a length down 2 out, stuck to task under a hand ride and came to challenge last, soon led, put under pressure, stayed on till closed on last strides, only just held on – a best to date over hurdles, but came to the end of his tether close home and would have finished 3rd or 4th if there’d been another 100 yards. Likely to be competitive here all the same
Ashington*
In this race last year was runner-up to Sebastopol but left the impression he should have won, travelled best as challenged leader 3 out, shaken up, blundered 2 out (which ultimately cost him the win), hard driven and ended up a length behind approaching last, looked held early on run-in, hard ridden, closed on Sebastopol last 100 yards, not quite get there. Was an okay 3rd to Tegerek at Cheltenham in October, niggled along approaching 2 out, mistake and badly hampered there, lost place, kept on into well-held 4th under a hand ride approaching last, hard driven up the hill, kept no and took 3rd 100 yards out, no impression on 1st 2, but ran worse at Doncaster on November 28th when last seen, niggled along in midfield after 5th, more firmly ridden and outpaced home turn, stayed on from 2 out, blundered last and lost 4th run-in behind Mick Maestro. Is of interest on this first run for Brian Ellison (17 wins from 90 stable-debutants, Flat and jumps, over the last five years)
Glan Y Gors
Better known as a stayer on the Flat and ran 2nd in the Northumberland Vase (Northumberland Plate consolation) at Newcastle in June to Mondain, tending to hang in behind and carry his head high.  Showed more resolution when posting best hurdles run so far at Cartmel in August, vigorously ridden along after 2 out, stayed on from last, ran on strongly in the straight to take Authorizo’s measure and win going away. Quick turnaround after running 4th in a jumpers’ bumper at Newcastle (seems to race more often on the Tapeta there than anywhere else these days) earlier this week, 4th to Proschema. Probably a little bit to find at these weights and has never won right-handed

Shortlist: Christopher Wood, Torigni, Ashington

Musselburgh 3.45
bet365 Edinburgh National Handicap Chase Class 2 0-150
4m176y – Going: Soft (Good to Soft in places) – 12 runners

Le Breuil
Best run of what’s been a disappointing season so far when 3rd tn Notachacne in Classic Chase at Warwick last time, lost place and hard ridden approaching 17th, held place 18th but under pressure, dropped to 6 lengths 7th before 3 out, dropped away and looked well held home turn, kept on from 2 out, jumped last in 10 lengths 6th, hard driven, stayed on strongly last 150 yards, passed a couple to take well-held 3rd close home, no chance with 1st 2. Dropped away when things cranked up, then some late work – we already knew he was a stayer so that told us nothing new; cheekpieces applied presumably in an attempt to get him to travel better
Saint Xavier
Has failed to confirm the promise of his reappearance in Charlie Hall Chase, last time at Kempton first time visored: hard ridden to make a start and made some of the running,  ridden along after 14th, steadied into 4 out, hard driven and strong reminders home turn, chased leader straightening, faded approaching 3 out, well held 2 out, continued to lose ground under a ride approaching last, kept on run-in but no impression on those ahead. Ran better there, but still hard work on and off: now blinkered instead of visored, not sure what to expect – back in the day when French-trained, he ran 4th in the 2018 Prix La Haye Jousselin over 3m3f at Auteuil, so there is a smidgen of ‘previous’ over extreme trips, but his trainer is yet to have a first time blinkered-winner (actually never had a blinkered winner at all until Who’s My Jockey took a jumpers’ bumper at Newcastle earlier this week)
Bob Mahler
In this race last year wearing cheekpieces, turned up late in the day to nab Chic Name close home: following that in first time blinkers, ran 3rd in Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival, mistake and pecked on landing 3 out, chased leader after, moved comfortably enough till pushed along approaching home turn, every chance straightening, one pace approaching 2 out, driven and no extra approaching last, driven and bumped eventual 4th 200 yards out, stayed on well final 150 yards and was closing strongly at the line. Has worn cheekpieces all three starts this season but completed a hattrick of pulled-ups in Borders National at Kelso last time, in close to 11th, switched wider and closer order 13th, shuffled back a little 14th, mistake 16th and vigorously ridden away from it, dropped rear, slow 17th, weakened 18th, tailed off 19th, pulled up before 20th. Back in blinkers here but, even though he’s ‘defending the title’, it would take a serious leap of faith to support him
Little Bruce
Last season won the North Yorkshire Grand National at Catterick on his way to this race, ridden along 20th, every chance 3 out, ridden, only a head down jumping 2 out, hard ridden, upsides last, led early on run-in; was a disappointing 4th to Bob Mahler in this race. Has been tailed off all three starts this season with best effort in cross-country at Cheltenham in November,  tracked leaders from 10th, lost place final circuit, midfield to rear when mistake 28th, some 25 lengths back 2 out, no more behind Kingswell Theatre; was tailed off behind Burbank in jumpers’ bumper at Newcastle on January 20th last time, made some of the running till hard ridden and weakened 2f out, dropped right away quickly. Hard to fancy on this season’s form; likely front-runner
The Ferry Master*
Progressing novice comes here on a hattrick, following up success at Kelso in November with his best to date at Newcastle later that month when last seen,  led 14th, headed 15th, led home turn and arguably going best niggled along and opened up a length lead approaching 3 out, was joined jumping, pushed along, found extra, pulled clear approaching 2 out, stayed on well and pulled further clear approaching last, 1st 2 clear of the rest, ridden out, stayed on well run-in, was closed on by Baron De Midleton a little but never in danger, workmanlike and decisive; a likeable performance, jumped cleanly and looked genuine. His dam won over hurdles over 3m so every hope he’ll stay this trip; likely to race up with the pace
Mighty Thunder*
After impressing as a stayer in the making when winning on soft ground over 2m4f at Hexham in October, proved himself over 3m at Hexham on November 18th, increased pace after 16th, was 2 or 3 lengths up when in close to 2 out, niggled along and found extra approaching home turn, going best approaching last but was closed on by Grand Morning and only a length up jumping, stayed on well run-in under a hands and heels ride, workmanlike and decisive. Didn’t turn up at Kelso last time, admittedly in a better race, off the bit from the tape and making mistakes, hopelessly tailed off behind Mahlervous. With cheekpieces replacing his usual visor, has a chance on his Hexham efforts
Fortified Bay
Successful over 2m7f on heavy at Newcastle last January, steadied into 14th and ridden away from it, rallied and back on terms 5 out, pushed along approaching home turn, hard driven and reminders turning in, stayed on to chase leader 4 out, driven after 3 out, disputed lead 2 out, hard driven, led last, ridden out from Hill Sixteen. No form since and tailed off both runs this season, at Carlisle on November 1st tracked leaders 14th, hard ridden and couldn’t go with leaders home turn, well held 4 out, weakened, tailed off 3 out, trailed in for well-held 4th behind Sojourn (and The Delray Munky who was also tailed off, albeit to a lesser extent), and at Haydock on borderline-raceable ground in November jumped left, several mistakes, reminder turning out of back straight as disputed 2nd, weakened home turn, hard ridden and reminder before blundered 3 out colliding with inside wing, tailed off and very tired 2 out, went badly left as barely clambered over last, did enough to take poor 2nd beaten 45 lengths behind Perfect Candidate. Not sure what to expect
Stay Humble 
Maiden over fences but placed in three out of four chases including both runs this season, at Kelso in October over 3m2f  tracked 1st 2 approaching 12th, moved largely comfortably 4 out, mistake 3 out, travelled best home turn and had 3 lengths to find on leader, in close to 2 out, hard ridden, outpaced between last 2, kept on under pressure but no impression on 1st 2 approaching last, didn’t make ground on 1st 2 but didn’t lose ground either in last 200 yards, stuck to task when 3rd to Damiens Dilemma. Was blinkered first time at Musselburgh in December when last seen, also dropped in trip, and niggled along briefly after 11th, travelled comfortably home turn, nudged along approaching 4 out, upsides leaders, soon pushed along, disputed lead 3 out, hard ridden, upsides 2 out, no extra under pressure nearing last, hard driven and still a chance jumping till no more last 150 yards, one pace, 2nd beaten just over a length behind On A Promise. There’s not much pedigree influence for the extreme trip, but comes here in form
Classic Escape
Best to date since joining Dr Richard Newland when runner-up at Sedgefield in November, switched off inner approaching 17th, reminder after, hard ridden home turn, stayed on and took 3rd approaching 2 out, half a length down jumping, put under pressure, every chance between last 2, chased winner as 1st 2 pulled clear approaching last, led nearing it, the worse jump, hard driven, headed close home, coming back at winner last couple of strides but just held – with a better jump at the last he’d have beaten Carrick Roads; made amends in Southwell in November for first and only chase win, up with the pace and drawing clear from the fourth last. Up in trip and grade, fortunate 2nd in Borders National at Kelso behind Dino Boy when last seen, pushed along approaching 18th,  ridden and going worst of the leading group approaching 3 out, stayed on and every chance home turn, mistake 2 out, hard driven and no extra as 1st 2 pulled clear between last 2, well held in 3rd when left 2nd last, tired and heavy-legged run-in and was closed by the next ones, beaten 15 lengths. Back in a competitive handicap, jumped nowhere near as well as at Southwell and, like at Sedgefield two starts before, didn’t travel; still can’t rule out with confidence
Dino Boy*
Did little on first run for Iain Jardine, but left it well behind with a win – albeit fortunate – in Borders National at Kelso last time, chased leader, in close to 2nd, slipped on take-off side of 4th, ridden into 11th, in close to 18th, steadied into 20th, challenging leaders when mistake 4 out, led going best 3 out, niggled along from 2 out and was challenged by Duc De Grissay for the lead, travelled best between last 2 and not hard ridden, a neck down when left in lead last, ridden out, unchallenged in the end. Would probably have come off second best if Duc De Grissay had stood up, but a good staying performance, beating Classic Escape 15 lengths; might not have that much more to do to follow up
The Delray Munky
Best to date when winning at Kelso over 2m7f on December 6th, niggled along on and off, prominent bend before 4 out, pushed along between there and 3 out, closer order again and disputed lead home turn, a neck down 2 out, pushed along, stayed on and led between last 2, hard driven approaching last, a length up jumping, driven out from Gipsy Lee Rose. In barely raceable conditions at Wetherby last time out on December 27th (4 fences on the circuit omitted), didn’t have it in her to complete the course in race where Leverock Lass finished alone, simply too tired to jump the last, having been 6 lengths down under a ride turning for home. The Kelso form gives her a chance and she’s plenty of back form on heavy ground including a previous 3m hurdles-win
Billy Bronco
Most recent win over 3m2f at Sedgefield in November 2019, not going as well as Another Emotion turning out of back straight and had 3 lengths to find, pair going as well (or as badly) as each other home turn, hard ridden approaching 2 out, mistake,  led narrowly approaching last, not fluent, driven out run-in; subsequently pulled up on last two runs for Evan Williams and joined Dr Richard Newland. Best of two starts for new trainer last time at Hereford on December 12th, sent on, disputed lead 4th, definite lead 11th, pushed along after 12th and arguably going worst of the field but held place, chased leader 14th, rallied and led approaching bend before 3 out, ridden along, stayed on, a neck up 2 out, put under strong pressure and headed home turn, faded, well held approaching last, driven run-in, no impression on winner, kept on. Hard work on the final circuit but probably gave his running, although could do nothing about  Innisfree Lad, beaten just over 7 lengths. First time blinkered then, wears the headgear again 

Shortlist: The Ferry Master, Mighty Thunder, Dino Boy