Local lad Andrew Mullen can land the big race on the second stage of the Easter meeting at Musselburgh tomorrow – the Totepool Musselburgh Gold Cup (3.25).
Tranent-born Mullen, pictured below, partners Royal Signaller and the five-year-old can raise a winning flag in this two-mile event.
He was returning from an 18-month absence when finishing third at Wolverhampton recently where he was extremely keen and pulled hard on the heels of the leaders until weakening in the final quarter of a mile. His four rivals that day certainly had the edge on fitness, for the quartet are winners on the all-weather this year, whereas Royal Signaller had not been seen since winning at Bath in September 2013. That was his second victory for Sussex trainer Amanda Perrett and he joined trainer Simon Earle shortly afterwards, but clearly developed problems, hence the long period on the sidelines.
Connections took the opportunity to geld him while he was inactive and he joined current handler Mick Appleby only a month ago. His victories came over shorter trips, but he proved at Wolverhampton that he has stamina and is sure to strip fitter this time. Lady Kashaan took this prize two years ago and, although she has top weight tomorrow, she is now back on the same mark, having failed to score in ten starts since then. Streets of Newyork was twice a winner over hurdles on this track in January and February and was also runner-up here during that period, so is certainly fit. He has only one victory to his credit on the level, but that came in a competitive affair at York last spring, so he should be a major player here, especially with useful apprentice Jake Butterfield claiming a handy 3lbs allowance.
But Royal Signaller has only been unplaced twice in nine starts, is lightly raced and has the potential to go on to even better things.
Keith Dalgleish was top trainer in Scotland last year and his Tommy Docc carries top weight in the Mytotepool.com Handicap (4.30) when he is likely to be sent off favourite.
The three-year-old showed promise when fourth on his debut at Hamilton last August, but was weak and backward and Dalgleish wisely gave him plenty of time. The patience paid off when Tommy Docc made a successful reappearance at Southwell a month ago.
But that was a modest event over five furlongs and he steps up an extra quarter of a mile tomorrow under a big weight, so I prefer the chances of X Raise, even though the filly has not raced for 236 days.
A half-sister to two winners, she overcame a slow start and trouble in running to make a successful debut over six furlongs at Carlisle in August and it’s worth noting that Graham Lee takes the mount again. It was soft ground on the Cumbrian track, so underfoot conditions tomorrow will pose no problems and she can make good use of the weight she gets from Tommy Docc.
Her trainer, David Brown and owner-breeder Peter Onslow can initiate a unique double by taking the Totepoolliveinfo.com Maiden Auction Stakes (3.55) with Arize – a half-sister to X Raise.
The five runners in this juvenile affair are all seeing a racecourse for the first time and Powerallied from the powerful Richard Fahey yard is the likely favourite, but David Brown has a fine record with his youngsters and the 6lbs sex allowance she receives from Powerallied can prove invaluable.
Glasgow-based Jim Goldie does well on the East Lothian track and saddled Silver Duke to run three times over hurdles here in the winter. The gelding was third on New Year’s Day, occupied the same position a fortnight later and then won easily over obstacles here in mid-February.
The grey has yet to score on the level, but was runner-up last year at Doncaster and over nine furlongs here in October when he was denied a clear run and forced to switched wide around the whole field at a vital stage. He ran on stoutly to go down only by a neck in a photo finish and can go one better over that same trip in the Totepool Four Places in Four Races Handicap (2.55).
Musselburgh selections: 2.55: Silver Duke; 3.25: Royal Signaller; 3.55: Arize; 4.25: X Raise.