There could be an Antipodean touch to racing at Musselburgh tomorrow as G’Day Aussie can prove the best bet on the East Lothian track.
The four-year-old is certainly well named, being a son of French Classic winner Aussie Rules, while his dam, Moi Aussie, was a dual winner on the flat when trained by Sir Mark Prescott.
G’Day Aussie was bought for ¤40,000 as a yearling and showed a little promise on the flat, his best effort coming when third over seven furlongs of this track some 18 months ago.
Hurdling, however, is proving to be his game, for after finishing fourth on his first two ventures over timber, he was an excellent second at Perth in September.
Trainer Brian Ellison, pictured, feels he might well have won then but for a bad blunder at the penultimate flight and the gelding then finished third at Wetherby the following month.
However since stepping into handicap company, he has really blossomed, winning his first handicap at Sedgefield in good style and then following up at Fakenham before Christmas despite an 8lbs hike in the ratings.
The official assessor did not take kindly to that and has shoved him another 12lbs in the Totepool Betting at Betfred Handicap Hurdle (4.00), but that may not stop this progressive sort from scoring again.
River Icon has taken my eye on more than one occasion in bumpers and can make a successful debut over timber in the Toteexacta at Betfred.com Maiden Hurdle (2.30).
The mare was third on her debut at Perth last summer and then finished an honest second at Catterick. The form of that event looks sound as the pair ahead of her have both run well to be placed since.
River Icon then finished ninth in a big field at Doncaster in what was a competitive affair, fading only approaching the final quarter of a mile.
Trainer Iain Jardine tells me she has schooled well in the interim and with Dale Irving claiming the 5lbs allowance, she will have only a light weight to carry.
Jardine can make it a double with My Little Cracker in the Collect Totepool Winnings at Betfred Mares Handicap Hurdle (5.00). The seven-year-old won a bumper immediately after joining Jardine 18 months ago and added two victories over hurdles last term.
She scored by a wide margin at Hexham last March and followed up at Southwell before stepping into handicap company at Sedgefield when a mark of 120 proved too much and she was only third.
This season she made the switch to chasing, finishing a moderate third at Hexham and then jumping without enthusiasm and eventually refusing in deep ground at Uttoxeter in January.
Her trainer quickly reverted to hurdling and she ran much better when third at Sedgefield recently where she was beaten a fair distance, but only weakened in the home straight.
Her handicap mark has plummeted 16lbs since her last win and this looks a suitable opportunity for the mare to get back to winning ways.
Major Ridge has been running well since joining Mickey Hammond in North Yorkshire and stepping up in trip, finishing third at Sedgefield and fourth at Wetherby before opening his winning account in good style at Catterick last month.
He made much of the running then and stayed on gamely, so was fancied to follow up at Carlisle three weeks ago despite a 9lbs rise in the ratings. The gelding was chasing the leading duo and still in with a major chance when crashing out at the fourth from home.
Compensation can come his way in the Toteplacepot at Betfred Handicap Chase (2.00) which opens proceedings.
Selections: 2.00 Major Ridge; 2.30 River Icon; 4.00 G’Day Aussie; 5.00 My Little Cracker.