TOP trainer Nicky Henderson will be joining the Musselburgh executive in hoping that racing beats the weather for the Cheltenham Trials day on the East Lothian track tomorrow.
Henderson sends a strong raiding party from Lambourn to chase some of the prizes on the richest ever jumps card to be staged on the seaside circuit when a total of £88,000 in prize money is on offer.
Parts of the track were frozen this week and a precautionary inspection has been scheduled for early tomorrow morning, but Musselburgh boss Bill Farnsworth has been encouraged by slightly better weather and said: “The forecast for Sunday is for temperatures of around plus 6 degrees and that is encouraging, but we shall be monitoring it all the while.
Henderson may well land a treble if racing goes ahead, as all five of his runners have sound chances. Significantly, stable jockey Barry Geraghty will be on duty.
Keys can prove a banker bet for the raiders in the Scottish Countryside Alliance Novices Hurdle (2.00) en route to a crack at one of the novice events at next month’s Cheltenham festival.
Successful in all three of his bumpers, Keys has also proved more than useful on the level, winning at Newbury and taking the Brown Jack Stakes over an extreme distance at Royal Ascot last summer.
The gelding was a highly promising second on his hurdling debut at Aintree in the autumn, will have benefitted from that experience and should go one better here.
Lyvius had some good form on the level in Germany and can make a successful debut over timber in the John Smith’s Scottish Triumph Hurdle (3.00). The four-year-old won twice and was placed twice from six starts for top German trainer Peter Schiergen, the latest success coming over ten furlongs on soft ground at Baden-Baden in October.
A well-bred sort whose half- brother was far from disgraced in the German Derby, he changed hands for 32,000 guineas before joining Henderson and could prove a real bargain.
Henderson can get off to a flyer with Thanks For Coming in the opening Buy Your Annual Members Badge Today Handicap Hurdle (1.30) despite having top weight.
Henderson has elected to reduce the burden by giving the ride to promising stable youngster Jeremiah McGrath, whose 5lbs allowance can prove invaluable.
Thanks For Coming won a Ludlow bumper eighteen months ago and showed promise over hurdles last term before opening his account at Sandown on his reappearance in early December. He was favourite when a close third at Market Rasen last month and can recoup those losses over this slightly shorter trip.
Fife trainer Lucinda Russell can keep some of the cash in Scotland by saddling Bold Sir Brian to take the John Smith’s Future Champions Chase (3.30). A winner in a bumper on his debut, the gelding took a valuable Listed hurdle at Kelso last spring before running well in top class company at the Aintree National fixture.
The six-year-old has switched to fences this term and was runner-up twice at Carlisle before winning easily at Hexham and he followed up in game fashion at Kelso when stepped up considerably in trip. He is highly regarded by his trainer who hopes that he may prove good enough to havce a crack at the Jewson Chase at the Cheltenham festival.
Musselburgh Selections: 1.30: Thanks For Coming; 2.00: Keys; 3.00: Lyvius; 3.30: Bold Sir Brian.