It is almost two years since Red Inca visited the winner’s enclosure, but the gelding can bounce back to his best form at Musselburgh tomorrow.
An 80,000 guineas yearling, who is bred to be a fast sprinter, he managed only one win on the level when trained by Brian Meehan – and that was over a stiff ten furlongs at Sandown Park.
But he seems to come good at this time of the year as he opened his account over hurdles at Ludlow in February 2012 and registered his only other success over timber at Haydock just over 12 months later.
Yorkshire trainer Brian Ellsion paid 16,000 guineas for the gelding and he was a promising third on his hurdling bow at Wetherby before finishing fourth on this track and then scoring at Ludlow where the sharp circuit seems ideal.
Being a son of top sprinter Pivotal out of a six-furlong winner in the USA means that National Hunt distances stretch his stamina, so the drying ground and the tight Musselburgh circuit can play to his strengths in the Forth One Boogie in the Morning Handicap Hurdle (3.30).
Following that Haydock success, the seven-year-old was runner-up at the big Scottish National meeting at Ayr and then finished a creditable fifth in the valuable Swinton Hurdle back at Haydock.
His form has nosedived since then and he has been well beaten in three starts this winter, but easy ground was against him on each occasion and he is now 17lbs below his top hurdling mark.
Ballyvoque began his career by finishing second in a bumper on the East Lothian track and opened his account over hurdles in a good style at Kelso in November, leading at the third from home and soon going clear.
The nine-year-old was then runner-up on this track when he was headed only on the run-in and went down fighting by a neck.
That was over two-and-a-half miles and the drop back to the minimum two miles may have been against him when fourth at Catterick recently where a mistake at the penultimate obstacle did not help either.
The step back up to two-and-a-half miles in the William Hill Download the App Handicap Hurdle (2.20) should suit and see him regain winning ways.
Snapping Turtle did not manage to open his winning account until his 11th start, getting up close home to win at big odds at Newcastle late in 2013. That was over two-and-a-half miles and he won again over three miles on this track just before last Christmas.
He again got on top near the line and was then runner-up at Catterick off an 8lbs higher mark during the Christmas holidays and was second again on this track last month when the easier ground may have been against him. The forecast of good ground will be in his favour and he can defy top weight in the William Hill in the App Store Handicap Hurdle (4.35).
Tim Vaughan has a good record with the horses he sends on the long haul north form his yard in Wales and has a 17 per cent strike rate here in the past five seasons so, if Liberty Court turns out for the William Hill On Your Mobile Limited Novice Handicap Chase (2.55), the hint should be taken.
This point-to-point winner only scored once over hurdles, but was placed seven times and has shown plenty of promise since switching to fences.
He was coming back from a seven-month break when third on his chasing debut at Sandown in December, but then found the opposition too hot when unplaced at Kempton’s big Christmas fixture.
The step up to three miles saw him bounce back to finish a solid third at Doncaster recently and he looks another who may appreciate the better ground.
Selections: 2.20 Ballyvoque; 2.55 Liberty Court; 3.30 Red Inca; 4.35 Snapping Turtle.