Jackie Stephen may be Britain’s most northerly trainer, but she is doing a fine job in only her second year with a full licence and can make it to the winner’s enclosure at Musselburgh tomorrow.
She sends two runners to the East Lothian track from her base in Aberdeenshire and I reckon Bright Prospect is the one to be on, who was a winner over hurdles in Ireland before joining Stephen.
Although there are only a ten horses in her team, Stephen has clocked up five winners this season and Bright Prospect can add to that tally in the RacingUK.com Chase (1.55).
The seven-year-old gelding has blossomed since switching to fences in the summer. He was third on his chasing debut at Perth in June, before a fourth-placed finish and then an August victory on the same track.
The handicapper put him up 12lbs for that effort, but Bright Prospect again ran well when third at Perth in September before going down only in a photo finish at Ayr three weeks ago.
The official assessor has again hoisted him up the ratings – by 4lbs this time – but he is ideally suited by this 2…m trip and is still on the upgrade.
Thankyou Very Much simply loves the seaside circuit, winning over hurdles here two years ago and opening her account over fences on this course last week.
The mare finished third on her chase debut at Southwell this autumn and had run well over the larger obstacles here early in November when finishing second over 2…m – a trip that really stretched her stamina.
She certainly appreciated the drop back to the minimum distance when scoring by seven lengths from a previous winner here nine days ago and can defy a 7lbs penalty in the RacingUK.com Handicap Chase (3.05) – provided the rain does not turn it into a mudbath, in which case she may well be an absentee.
River Icon caught my eye when finishing third on her racecourse bow in a bumper at Perth at the end of June, where she was fairly prominent in the betting and gave best only in the final quarter of a mile.
With that experience under her belt, the four-year-old should be worth support in the Watch Racing UK in HD National Hunt Flat Race (3.35).
Her trainer, Iain Jardine, may well initiate a double with Star of Spring in the RacingUK Mares Maiden Hurdle (1.25).
The four-year-old failed to win in 21 starts on the level when trained by Charlie Hills, but was placed on several occasions. She certainly hinted at ability when runner-up over a mile at Hamilton in May and was also second at Chepstow last year, as well as running with credit in competitive affairs at Newmarket and Newbury.
She made 100,000 gns as a yearling as she is very closely related to four winners, but Jardine snapped her up at the sales for just 11,000 gns. Her dam was a middle-distance performer from a family with plenty of stamina and she can make a successful debut at the winter game.
Selections: 1.25 Star of Spring; 1.55 Bright Prospect; 3.05 Thankyou Very Much; 3.35 River Icon.