Lil Sophella just keeps on improving and she can land another good prize at Musselburgh tomorrow.
The seven-year-old netted the first of her six career victories at Catterick almost exactly three years ago off a lowly mark of 52 but she has climbed the ratings in style since then and is now rated in the upper 80s. That means she has to shoulder top weight in the EBF Stallions Scottish Premier Series Fillies Handicap (4.10) on the East Lothian track, but I reckon she can add this £25,000 event to her CV.
She has amassed more than £66,000 in prize money to date and seems to relish this seaside circuit. She won the corresponding event 12 months ago and her Musselburgh record reads 2-5-2-2-1-3.
She is 11lbs higher than when taking this prize last autumn, but has progressed again this term, making a winning reappearance in a competitive York affair in May when she produced a strong, late thrust before finishing third on this track the following month. A fifth place at Chester followed when she did not get the clearest of passages before she was third when stepped up to Listed company at Pontefract. The handicapper whacked up 8lbs to a mark of 89 for that effort, but she showed she is capable of winning despite that when finishing well into fifth place in a £60,000 affair back at the big York meeting last month.
The only real blot on her record this year came at Ascot on her latest outing where she finished last of seven, but that was by far her stiffest test to date and the slow pace certainly did not help her hold-up style of racing. I am certainly prepared to forgive her that lapse, especially as the handicapper has eased her slightly in the ratings.
By contrast, Captain Dunne has been sliding down the weights, falling from a career high of 107 to just 66 when he lines up for the RSP Consulting Engineers Handicap (3.05). All 12 of his career wins have come over the minimum five furlongs, the highlight being victory in the valuable Epsom Dash way back in 2011. The gelding is now 11 years old, but the engine still works as he has shown on a couple of occasions this term.
He led until close home when fourth at Thirsk and later at Catterick and was beaten only two-and-three-quarter lengths when seventh in a huge field at Redcar in midweek. Trainer Tim Easterby has his horses in top trim and smart apprentice Rachel Richardson will claim a handy 3lbs allowance.
Sir Mark Prescott sends just one runner on the long trek from Newmarket and Alsacienne should make the trip pay by taking the Robert Purvis Plant Hire Handicap (4.45).
The three-year-old is a half-sister to three winners and has thrived since stepping up in trip this term, finishing third at Yarmouth and runner-up at Epsom before going one better at Wolverhampton.
Coronation Day is another Newmarket raider who can make his presence felt in the Royal Regiment of Scotland Handicap (3.35).
Too backward to run as a juvenile, he was second on his debut at Thirsk in April and then ran well when finishing on the heels of the leaders in a big field at Newmarket.
A solid third place at Redcar followed and he has won two of his last four races at Catterick and Thirsk. This sharpish seven furlongs should suit admirably.
Selections: 3.05 Captain Dunne; 3.35 Coronation Day; 4.10 Lil Sophella; 4.45 Alsacienne.