The green-and-gold colours of leading owner JP McManus can take the limelight on Musselburgh’s big Trials Day tomorrow.
The Irishman has literally hundreds of horses in training here – and on the Emerald Isle – and his retained jockey Barry Geraghty pays a rare visit to the East Lothian track for some very good mounts.
He teams up with top trainer Nicky Henderson and they can get off to a flyer with Brain Power in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices Trial Hurdle (1.00) which opens a cracking eight-race card.
The five-year-old cost 30,000 guineas and made a successful debut in a bumper at Newcastle just short of a year ago when trained in Ireland by James Jenkins and was quickly snapped up by Henderson. The gelding was far from disgraced on his only start for his new connections when finishing tenth in a big field for a Grade Two bumper at Aintree when he was travelling well enough on the heels of the leaders when hampered on the home turn.
He returned from a summer holiday to make a successful hurdling debut at Kempton towards the end of November, showing a bright turn of foot to lead on the run-in and Henderson has avoided the heavy winter ground with this Cheltenham Festival hopeful. Underfoot conditions should suit tomorrow and Brain Power is clearly held in high regard by the Lambourn handler, who sends a strong team of seven north from his Seven Barrows base.
Henderson and Geraghty can double up with Days of Heaven, who can defy a big weight in the Totepool Supporting Scottish Racing Scottish County Hurdle (3.00).
The six-year-old netted a hat-trick of successes in novice company last winter, but can prove tricky at the start and gave away ground on more than one occasion, but is clearly useful. He completed his hat-trick in a Grade Two event at Kempton last February, but did not seem to stay when stepped up to two-and-a-half miles at Aintree in April and then enjoyed a summer break.
The gelding finished well in the ruck on his return in the ultra-competitive Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham on his reappearance at Cheltenham in November, but ran well for a long way, weakening only from the penultimate flight. He needs to go right-handed to show his best and the handicapper has dropped him a couple of pounds in the ratings.
Henderson can make it a treble in the concluding Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Qualifier (4.30) in which he saddles both Call the Cops and Cup Final.
The latter carries the McManus colours and will be ridden by Geraghty, but returns after more than a year on the sidelines and I prefer the chances of Call the Cops.
He went down by only a head in a valuable affair at Aintree three weeks ago and can defy a hike in the ratings to make a successful reappearance here.
Gordon Elliott has a good record here and the Irish trainer can take the Albert Bartlett Scottish Trial (3.30) with Fagan. This half-brother to six winners was successful in three Irish points last spring before winning bumpers at Perth and Ayr last autumn.
He won easily when long odds-on for his hurdling debut on this track in December and, although this is by far his stiffest test to date, he can extend the winning sequence.
Musselburgh selections: 1.30 Brain Power; 3.00 Days of Heaven; 3.30 Fagan; 4.30 Call the Cops.