Smart Ruler was a good winner at Musselburgh in November and can usher in the New Year with another victory there tomorrow.
The handicapper has put him up 7lbs for that recent success, and so the nine-year-old is on a career high mark in the Totepool Hogmaneigh Hurdle (2.10) but he could still be on the upgrade. Trainer Jimmy Moffatt certainly thinks so and said: “He won well here on his latest outing and although this looks a very good race, he has earned his place in line-up and he seems to like the track. We were contemplating stepping him up in trip, but this is a good prize and if they go a good gallop, he won’t be far away”
Smart Ruler has run on the East Lothian circuit on five occasions with one win and being placed twice, while he was going well when unseating his rider on another occasion. I was impressed with the way he quickened to lead in the home straight seven weeks ago and then ran on really strongly. He looks sure to get the good pace he needs tomorrow and can go well at good odds.
Lightning Rod is another who can quicken smartly and he chases a hat-trick after two recent wins at Wetherby, but he has a big weight to carry.
Gold Futures rattled up a hat-trick during the summer, but the Nicky Richards-trained gelding has not been seen since finishing third at Perth in August and Smart Ruler can land the spoils.
Merchant of Dubai has nine wins on the level to his credit with four of them coming on this track and he can open his account over hurdles in the Happy New Year from Totepool Handicap Hurdle (1.00).
Jim Goldie’s gelding has yet to score in seven attempts over hurdles, but has been runner-up on three occasions including when chasing home the useful Nexius here early in November.
The nine-year-old was fourth here three weeks later when a mistake at the penultimate flight did not help, but he stays this two and half miles well and can get his head in front tomorrow. Solway Sam was fourth in the concluding three mile hurdle last year and can land the spoils this time after a run of ultra consistent efforts.
The veteran scored twice at Perth in the summer and was then runner-up on five consecutive starts despite rising steadily in the weights before finishing 4th at Doncaster recently.
The 12-year-old was far from disgraced there, has bags of stamina and only a low weight to carry in the Collect Totepool Winnings at Betfred Handicap Hurdle (3.20)
James Reveley rides this track well and can team up with his father Keith to take the Totepool Scottish Premier Chase (1.35) with Shadrack.
The gelding scored twice iat Sedgefield in the early weeks of the season back in May and returned from a six month break to finish an honourable third at Aintree in October when he may well have been second but for being hampered at the last.
Shadrack went one better when making much of the running at Doncaster at Doncaster only to be caught in the dying strides and beaten a neck. He can defy a 3lb rise in the ratings to gain compensation here.
Selections: 1.00 Merchant of Dubai; 1.35 Shadrack; 2.10 Smart Ruler; 3.20 Solway Sam.