MUSSELBURGH - Wednesday 25th January
Going - Good (a bit loose on top)
1.40 2m 4f Cosmic Case Mares' Novices' Hurdle (Class 4)
Gordon Elliott's Downpatrick winner MAE'S CHOICE dictated from the start and, winding things up on the second circuit, was not pressed to win this event. GLENORA GALE, who has ability but has proved less than straightforward on occasions, chased the leader from three out without making a serious impression. She'll probably find a similar event sometime.
SANDS OF VATERSAY was outpaced in the straight and the other three didn't get in a blow from the home turn, debutante BALLADE DE LA MER falling heavily at the last when well beaten..
2.10 3m Racing UK Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Chase (70-95)
A right bunch of characters in this one, though the winner had at least hinted at better to come when second here on New Year's Day. TEARS FROM HEAVEN was always going comfortably enough in touch with the leaders and pulled clear from four out, being eased down close home. He entered this on a very lowly mark and even a hefty rise will keep him in this moderate company, in which he must have chances of a follow up.
DESERTMORE STAR had one on two bits of form in points, but hasn't excited in handicaps to date. He was well held in the straigth but kept on for second place, and seems honest enough, though second here is nothing to write home about.
HURRICANE jACK was never able to dominate and Peter Buchanan was 'at him' from a long way out. He kept on for third, but is capable of better if able to get a free ride in front.
STUFF OF DREAMS was in rear for the first half of the race, closed a bit down the far side but lost touch from the home turn. She's shown the odd glimmer of form on decent gorund, but struggles in all but the very worst company.
WHY ARE YOU ASKING is flattered by a row of places and was outpaced from four out.
OH RIGHT has been beaten a long way in all efforts under Rules.
LEOPOLD has done well round Fakenham in the past but is regressing these days.
PADDYS UNYOKE clung determindely to his maiden tag under Rules, dropping away quickly from a mile out.
2.40 Tom McConnell Trophy Novices' Hurdle (Class 4)
Only two threatened to win this and previous course winner INGLEBY SPIRIT took control before the last and came clear to win with a fair bit in hand. The sharp track and good ground suit this one.
Bangor winner ABSINTHE pulled hard early on but led until approaching the last, at which point he ran out of puff and was eased since he was well clear of the third.
MAYBE I WON'T kept on for third, though never near the leaders while L'EMINENCE GRISE did at least take on the favourites before being outpaced approaching three out, an encouraging sign if pitched against less capable opposition.
SNOOKER eased into contention three but soon weakened.
3.10 Boogie In The Morning Handicap Hurdle (105-120)
Once again Musselburgh put their fellow courses to shame with a £10,000 headline prize at a run-of-the-mill midweek meeting.
Determined front-runner DONTPAYTHEFERRYMAN set off at a decent pace and kept up the gallop to record a second successive course win. He really goes well here and he was plenty good enough to cope with this stiffer class.
KNIGHT IN PURPLE pulled clear with the winner from two out, but just couldn't get to grips with that one. He does all his racing on decent ground and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him back here for the Scottish County Hurdle.
BEIDH TINE ANSEO cashed the leader but was outpaced from two out. He got bumped up a long way in the ratings for winning a couple of handicaps and the handicapper has him in his place.
HUNTERS BELT made progress to chase the leaders entering the straight, but didn't make any further impression.
EMBSAY CRAG ran off 119 here and that seemed harsh for winning a moderate event at Wetherby. He struggled after the turn for home.
3.40 Bunny Maitland-Carew Handicap Chase ( - )
The master placer Gordon Elliott put OSCAR HILL in here for a first effort over fences. Taken down quietly, he was set alight once the race started, jumped well in front and nothing seriously threatened. Difficult to wiegh up the performance since he got his own way and he may find it tougher if moved up to a better class now.
RED TANBER's winnnig run came to an end, but he may just have 'run into one' here as he was well clear of the remainder and I'd keep faith with him as he's well capable of winning in this class. He showed himself to be very nimble, having to hurdle a faller at the ninth, but I don't think that incident mattered as far as final position was concerned.
STREAMTOWN, not totally disgraced in a mares' Grade 3 at Cork last time, chased the leader for much of the way, not being helped by the fall of Alpha One, but was not making any headway when thumping two out. She couldn't recover and finished a well beaten third.
SERGEANT PINK has struggled to make a mark since joining Dianne Sayer and faded in the straight having chased the leader for two miles.
HEAVENLY CHORUS never got into the race and was well behind once turned for home.
ALPHA ONE had chased the leader until falling at the ninth. He remains an interesting prospect in similar company.
4.10 Watch Racing UK Online at Racinguk.com Standard Open NH Flat Race (Class 6)
This won't have been the strongest bumper in Scotland this season.
The winner IFYOUSAYSO showed a glimmer of ability in a maiden last season, but acquired an 'R' at Alnwick in December! He showed plenty of determination here, leading until after two out, then battlnig back determinedly in the final final to snatch the race on the line. It remains to be seen what the form is worth, but he showed plenty when the chips were down.
FLAMING ARROW cruised into the lead after two out, but couldn't find enough once asked for more and surrendered the race 50 yards out.
SPRING LANE kept on well enough in third just ahead of SPARVILLE who loomed up on the final bend but could never get to grips with the leaders. The latter probably wasn't suited by the sharp track here.
I should be at the Cheltenham Trials day a week Sunday for what is always a decent day's racing. I hope to make the last meeting at Musselburgh on February 16th, though work commitments might now get in the way. Next meeting after that will be Premier Hurdle and Chase at Kelso on March 3rd, with Ballabriggs lined up for his Grand National prep race.