The torrential rain and bad weather which hit Cumbria and the west coast last week certainly gave trainer Nicky Richards a harrowing time, but the master of Greystoke managed to keep his team on the move and that hard work can pay off at Musselburgh tomorrow.
Nicky sends just two runners to the East Lothian track – Parc Des Princes and Winter Alchemy – and they both run in the opening ELC – The Saltire Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle (12.35) which opens the card.
“It’s not an ideal situation with two in the same race, but we are just glad to be running,” Richards said “We’ve had some horrendous weather.
“We had almost seven inches of rain on the gallops in one 24-hour period, but we have some good indoor facilities are were able to keep everything on the move”
Winter Alchemy has a nice spot towards the foot of the weights, but my preference is for Parc Des Princes, who has registered two of his five hurdle victories on the seaside circuit.
Twice a winner on the flat too, he scored over the minimum trip over hurdles here at the end of 2011 and added another success over an extra half mile twelve months later.
He was successful at Huntingdon in August of 2014 and then finished a close third on that track a couple of weeks later, but was then injured and side lined for more than twelve months until reappearing at Kelso recently.
He was certainly ring-rusty and back to the minimum trip, so soon found himself outpaced in the rear, but was far from disgraced and he should have derived considerable benefit from the exercise.
The gelding tackles 3m tomorrow, but has shaped as though this longer trip should suit and I expect him to turn in a much better performance this time.
Fife-based Lucinda Russell has her string in great shape and can land another success here with Throthethatch in the Racing UK Black Friday Novices Limited Handicap Chase (1.45).
The six-year-old won a point-to-point in Ireland and looks every inch a chaser, so it was no surprise that he made 44,000 gns at the sales before joining Russell. He showed promise in a bumper and over hurdles before switching to fences and opening his account under rules at Perth in May.
The gelding made all the running then and returned from a summer break to follow up in similar style at Kelso a fortnight ago when he jumped like an old hand to easily justify favouritism.
The handicapper has put him up 9lbs in the ratings, but the hat-trick still looks very much on the cards.
Gin Cobbler is an in-and-out character, but had some useful form in the summer when he won three times and climber a stone and a half in the weights.
The nine-year-old has been below par since an eight week break in late July through August and he was sent of 66-1 when well beaten here a couple of weeks ago, but he will have just a light weight in the Semichem Handicap Chase (2.55) and might be worth a speculative each-way wager.
Black Ink was well-fancied on his debut in a bumper at Kelso three weeks ago where he was sent off a well-back favourite, but he showed his inexperience and was outpaced at half-way after running lazily.
However, he stayed on well to take the runner-up spot and with that experience under his belt, he can go one better in the Bellmont Wallyford Maiden Open National Hunt Flat Race (3.25).
Selections: 12.35 Prince des Parcs; 1.45 Throthethatch; 2.55 Gin Cobbler; 3.25 Black Ink