Top trainer Sir Michael Stoute sends just one runner on the long haul from Newmarket to Musselburgh tomorrow and the hint should be taken.
Indelible Ink lines up for the £60,000 Totescoop6 Edinburgh Gold Cup (3.25) and looks the best bet on the East Lothian track.
Stoute is a rare visitor to these parts with only one runner here – it was beaten – in the last five seasons, but Indelible Ink has the right credentials to land this big prize.
The three-year-old carries the famous Ballymacoll Stud colours and is a half-brother top a couple of top class winners, including Liber Nauticus who won the Group Three Musidora Stakes at York. He showed promise as a juvenile, finishing sixth on his debut over 6F at Newmarket and then was second over an additional furlong at Redcar and it’s worth noting that the winner there was runner-up in the valuable Royal Mile Handicap on this course at Easter.
Indelible Ink ended last term by finishing second again over a mile at Wolverhampton and it was plain that he would improve when stepped up in trip this season. So it proved as he turned in his best effort to date on his reappearance over ten furlongs at Sandown recently.
Stepping up markedly in class and making his handicap bow, he was sent off an unconsidered 33-1 chance, but ran a cracker to finish fifth, just a length and a half behind the winner – his stable companion Dartmouth who was the mount of stable jockey Ryan Moore and was the favourite.
Indelible Ink was always chasing the pace and stayed on strongly up the hill to the line, so the extra quarter of a mile tomorrow should suit, while he has proved his ability to handle quicker ground.
The handicapper may have erred by leaving him on a mark of 77, for that Sandown race was a hot event in which all the other nine runners boasted previous winning form.
Richard Fahey has two in the line-up, best of which could be recent Nottingham winner Cadeau Magnifique while Mark Johnston saddles three in this event. Best of the trio could be Yorkiddin who chases a hat-trick after winning at York and Sandown. His stamina is proven, but those victories have seen him rise 10lbs in the ratings and Indelible Ink gets the vote.
Auspicion can also make the trip North pay off by winning the Totequadpot Handicap (2.50) for Stoute’s neighbour William Haggas.
Haggas has team in great shape after a slow start to the season with 15 winners from 70 runners and he has a good record here at Musselburgh with four winners and a 33 per cent strike rate in the past five seasons.
Auspicion is closely related to several good winners and was runner-up after a slow start on his debut at Ascot last summer before disappointing when favourite and only sixth on a return visit to that track in September.
That turned out to be a good race though and Auspicion made a successful reappearance over a mile at Ripon in April where he made all the running. He was apprentice ridden when only third at Doncaster over a shorter trip but returns to a mile here and will be ridden by Harry Bentley – freshly returned to these shores and amongst the winners after a winter stint during which he was champion in Qatar with more than 100 winners.
Mark Johnston holds the key to the Totepool Edinburgh Castle Stakes (2.15) in which he saddles Furiant and First Party. The latter cost 37,000 gns at the breeze-up sales this spring and made all the running to win on her debut at Nottingham.
Furiant also cost three times that and also made a successful debut on this track early last month, but was well beaten when favourite for a conditions event at Beverley, so First Party is my choice. The Yorkshire trainer can complete a double with Sur Empire in the Totepool Betting on All UK Racing Handicap (4.00) in which the filly receives weight from all her rivals.
A half-sister to four winners, she showed plenty of promise when third on her only juvenile start and ran well when sixth in a competitive maiden at Newmarket on her reappearance before making all the running when successful over seven furlongs here just over a fortnight ago.
She galloped on strongly that day, tackles the same trip and an initial mark of 73 may prove more than generous.
Musselburgh selections: 2.15 First Party; 2.50 Auspicion; 3.25 Indelible Ink; 4.00 Sur Empire.