NEWMARKET trainer David Elsworth is a rare visitor to Scotland but he has certainly targeted the big prizes on offer at Musselburgh tomorrow.
He has had just three runners – and no winners – on Scottish tracks in the past five seasons, but with almost £150,000 in prize money tomorrow, Elsworth has despatched a three-strong raiding party on the long trek from Suffolk and I reckon he can go home with a double in the bag.
Justice Day has to give weight to all his rivals in the Totepool Edinburgh Castle Stakes (2.20), but looks a very smart youngster and can collect this prize enroute to a crack at the top juvenile prizes at Royal Ascot.
He cost £42,000 at the Kempton breeze-up sales at the end of March, but looks a bargain after winning two of his first three races.
Elsworth can get off to a flyer with Llaregyb in the opening Bet Toteplace Handicap (1.50). The three-year-old impressed me when scoring at Newmarket recently and can overcome a 10lb hike in the ratings.
The colt showed bags of promise when fourth on his debut in a big field on his home track last autumn and the race may have come too quickly when favourite and unplaced at Nottingham just a fortnight later.
He has thrived during the winter break and ran too free for his own good when unplaced at Newbury on his return to action in April, but it was a different story when making his handicap bow late.
Elsworth saddles Dashing Star in the big race, the £60,000 Totepool Edinburgh Cup (3.30), but although the colt takes a step down in class after finishing last in the Group Two Dante Stakes at York recently, I still prefer others.
Mark Johnston saddles three runners, the best of which could be Blue Wave, but Graham Lee’s mount was beaten by Van Percy at Haydock last week and they may finish in the same order again, even though there was only a nose between them on that occasion. For although Blue Wave is now slightly better off at the weights, he had the run of the race after leading for much of the way, whereas Van Percy was consistently denied a clear run on the inside rail until a gap appeared in the last 100 yards. Van Percy then produced a sizzling burst of speed to lead in the very last stride and is clearly a smart colt, having gone down only narrowly at Chester previously and he gets my vote to follow up for Berkshire trainer Andrew Balding.
Karaka Jack has been in great form this term, winning on his reappearance at Doncaster and again recently at Hamilton Park.
In between those victories, he went down by just half a length in an ultra-competitive handicap at Ascot and he can take the ToteExacta on All Races Handicap (5.05) for trainer Dandy Nicholls and jockey-son Adrian who have an excellent record on the East Lothian track.
Selections: 1.50 Llaregyb: 2.20 Justice Day; 3.30 Van Percy; 5.05 Karaka Jack.