Red Baron received one of the biggest roars at Musselburgh Racecourse this season when he ran out as an emphatic winner of the William Hill Scottish Sprint Cup on Saturday at the East Lothian track.
Denied by Robot Boy in the consolation race last year, Eric Alston’s six-year-old, who went off a well-backed 4/1 favourite, was soon prominent in the hands of apprentice Neil Farley, with Tim Easterby’s 25/1 shot Confessional for company.
Red Baron started to assert heading to the furlong pole and had a length-and-a-half in hand of David Barron’s Fast Track at the line, with Confessional another two and a quarter lengths away in third and Barnet Fair, trained by Dandy Nicholls, back in fourth.
The hard-luck story was Kevin Ryan’s Online Alexander, who gave his jockey Shane Grau little chance after he reared in the stalls as they were about to open. He was always playing catch up, but rallied well to eventually finish sixth.
The winner broke the five-furlong track record and Alston said: “I always thought he’d be very good. He’s all speed and he’s a great horse to train, he’s no bother.
“Neil said he could have won on the bridle – I don’t know about that!
“How far he can go we’ll have to see, he’ll probably be out of most handicaps, I think.
“We’ll have to see where we go, we haven’t talked about it.”
The consolation race for this year’s feature went the way of the Dandy Nicholls-trained Pearl Acclaim (14/1), who held on by a head from Meadway in the hands of Paul Quinn.
Nicholls said: “We decided to give him a chance (and drop in) because of the pace in the race and for a lad who doesn’t get many chances he gave him a hell of a ride.”
Bryan Smart’s Meadway finished one-and-a-quarter lengths clear of Easterby’s Captain Dunne, while the 2/1 favourite Distant Past wasn’t far behind in fourth place after starting slowly.
Favourite backers got off to the perfect start in the first race of Ladies’ Day, the Madeleine Cup EBF Stallion Maiden Stakes, as Mark Johnston’s 4/5 jolly Muhadathat won under a confident ride from Joe Fanning.
In the Stobo Castle Ladies Day Cup Handicap, Mick Easterby’s 7/1 shot Aldreth blitzed clear of the well-backed 7/2 favourite Gabrial The Duke to win by four lengths, while 14/1 outsider I’ll Be Good sprang a surprise by landing the William Hill Exclusive Mobile Offers Handicap from the favourite Flicka’s Boy.
Richard Fahey and amateur Samantha Bell were on target as 7/4F Gabrial The Tiger powered on to win the Conundrum HR Consulting Handicap, while the last race also went the way of the favourite as 9/4 shot Surround Sound claimed the Gaynor Winyard Amateur Riders’ Handicap for Tim Easterby.