Just Paul set to bounce back at Musselburgh
Just Paul has not won for almost exactly two years, but can bounce back to his best at Musselburgh this afternoon where there is free entry courtesy of the track's bookmakers.
The layers have a competitive eight-race card to help them retrieve the cost of their support for the East Lothian track and they will be hoping for a big crowd and plenty of activity in the betting rings.
Just Paul went into my notebook at Beverley last week where he was persistently denied a clear run near the inner rail and finished only eigth of the dozen runners, beaten just five lengths.
I am sure he would have been much closer but for that interference in a rough race and it was his first outing since mid-October, so it will have blown the cobwebs away.
The six-year-old has a decent record here with three of his six career wins coming over seven furlongs – the trip he faces in the first division of the MacBet Guaranteed Odds Handicap (3.10).
He scored off a mark 76 for his last success here two years ago and now runs off just 61, having failed to trouble the judge in the interim. But he has turned in some fair efforts, especially when favourite and runner-up over this course and distance last June off a mark of 70.
He is set to get weight from most of his rivals this afternoon and will not mind the ground drying out, so appeals as a rock solid investment.
Keith Dalgleish has become quite a force in Scottish racing in a short time and can saddle another winner at Musselburgh with Doeadeer in the Racing UK Daypass Handicap (5.10).
The three-year-old cost 30,000 guineas as a yearling and showed bags of promise when runner-up at Hamilton on her only start as a juvenile last year.
She led just past the halfway mark there and gave best only in the last hundred yards and the filly came back from a six month break to go one better on the all-weather track at Chelmsford in March.
She again took command at halfway and this time she held on gamely to justify favouritism in a photo finish. She has bags of pace and although she steps up a furlong in trip today, this sharp track should help.
Smalljohn has been an excellent servant for Yorkshire trainer Brian Smart, winning 14 of his 82 starts and he can add to his laurels in the finale – the Watch Racing UK in HD Handicap (5.45).
The ten-year-old is at home both the turf and synthetic surfaces and actually has one victory on this track to his credit. He often shows his form early in the year and comes here after winning at Wolverhampton in March.
Jim Goldie is another Scots trainer with a good record on the seaside circuit and he can take the Central Taxis Faster, Greener, Safer Handicap (4.10) with Testa Rossa.
The gelding has won just three of his 28 starts, but has been placed ten times and ran well when second at Ayr last week on his return to action after a winter break.
He was staying on well in the closing stages of that ten furlong affair and the extra quarter of a mile should pose no problems as he was runner-up over that trip here a couple of seasons ago.
Goldie has booked smart apprentice Joe Doyle for the mount and the lad’s 3lbs allowance means that Testa Rossa will be back down to within one pound of his last winning mark.
Musselburgh selections: 3.10 Just Paul; 4.10 Testa Rossa; 5.10 Doeadeer; 5.45 Smalljohn.