Patience can be the key word for punters at Musselburgh this afternoon when Jebel Tara looks the best bet on the card.
The ten-year-old runs in the final event of the seven race programme on the East Lothian track, but he loves this course and this is certainly his time of year.
He hit a real purple patch in May last year when he won four consecutive races in just three weeks with three of those victories coming on this track. The first in the early days of the month was his first victory for almost four years and he followed up just ten days later.
Nine days later he switched to the all-weather surface at Southwell to easily justify favouritism. Those three races were all over seven furlongs, but he stepped up to a mile to complete the four-timer when he returned to this track a week later.
Those efforts saw him climb almost 20 lbs in the ratings, but he defied the handicapper again later to score at Ayr in July.
Needless to say his form then tailed off and he was unplaced in his final eight starts last year, but that had the effect of seeing his handicap mark drop back through the ratings.
There wasn’t much promise when he was well beaten on his reappearance here on Easter Monday, but three weeks later he really caught my eye when third at Catterick.
Back down to the same mark of 51 off which he began last seasons’ dazzling run of victories, he again dictated matters when a close third here eight days ago, being caught only in the last 100 yards.
Trainer Alan Brown has got the veteran in great heart and he gets a confident vote in the New Racing UK Ipad App Handicap (5.20).
Ralphy Lad opened his winning account in style at Southwell a fortnight ago and followed up at Hamilton Park last week when he revelled in the easy underfoot conditions.
The four-year-old is a half-brother to a couple of sprint winners, but is well suited by middle distances and trainer Alan Swinbank has his team in great form with half a dozen winners in the last couple of weeks.
Ralphy Lad has a 6lb penalty which puts him on top weight in the CKD Galbraith Handicap (3.40), but the gelding can still complete a quick hat-trick
Surprise Vendor is an out-and-out stayer who has won on the flat, over hurdles and over fences and he can register another win at the summer game in the opening Racing TogetherGive & Gain day Handicap (2.00). Four wins over hurdles and four wins over fences have been added to three flat victories, the latest of which came in a two-and-a-quarter mile marathon at Pontefract in April – a race he was winning for the second successive year.
The gelding disappointed back there over an even longer trip recently, but the two miles today should suit and he can gallop the opposition into surrender to give trainer’s son Sam Coltherd a first career win in this amateur riders event.
Go Dan Go showed promise when placed twice last term and was runner-up on his reappearance on this track at Easter before occupying the same position at Redcar. He went one better at Beverley ten days later and can follow up in the Download Your Racing UK App Handicap (4.50) for Carluke trainer Keith Dalgleish.
Musselburgh selections: 2.00 Surprise Vendor; 3.40 Ralphy Lad; 4.50 Go Dan Go; 5.20 Jebel Tara.