The two-day meeting is always targeted by the major Southern stables, but a fair chunk of tomorrow’s prize money can stay in Scotland courtesy of Sir Chauvelin.
Trained near Glasgow by Jim Goldie, the gelding has a fair record on the East Lothian track having won three of his four races over timber here and he can add the £30,000 Bet365 Scottish County Hurdle (2.05) to that record.
The six-year-old made a successful debut over hurdles on this track late in 2015 and followed up in style on New Year’s Day of 2016 before finishing third in the juvenile hurdle trial at this fixture a few weeks later.
He scored twice on the level at Hamilton Park that spring and was campaigned solely on the level afterwards and scored on the new all-weather track at Newcastle last November. He reappeared over timber again on this track recently when he turned in an excellent effort to triumph once more.
His jumping was rather rusty, but he was able to beat the favourite – who was chasing a hat-trick – despite the fact that jockey Callum Bewley dropped his whip on the run-in.
That effort delighted trainer Goldie and Sir Chauvelin runs off only 3lb higher here. He could be a leading light this spring and gets a confident vote.
Brian Ellison landed a big prize at Cheltenham last week with Definitly Red and will send several runners up from Yorkshire including Crackdeloust, who runs against Sir Chauvin and Contre Tous.
The latter makes his seasonal reappearance and his debut for the yard in the Bet365 Scottish Champion Chase (2.45) after changing hands for 35,000 guineas at Doncaster sales last spring. The gelding was successful in a bumper in France before joining Paul Nicholls for whom he won twice over fences last season at Market Rasen last spring. He got home by a neck on the first occasion in late March and defied a 4lb rise in the weights to follow up a fortnight later before finishing third in a valuable event off a 5lb higher mark at Warwick.
“He’s a nice horse and had a good summer break,” Ellison told me. “It has taken a little while to get to know him, but we are hoping for a good run. All his wins have come in the spring.”
Paul Nicholls has plenty of entries and Tommy Silver can help pay for the long trip from Somerset by winning the Bet365 Scottish Future Champions Novices Chase (1.35).
He scored three times over hurdles, begining with a victory in the Triumph Hurdle Trial at this meeting two years ago and ended last term by finishing a close sixth in the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr.
The six-year-old has done well since switching to fences this term, finishing second on his chase debut at Worcester in November before winning at Leicester and he has been placed on two subsequent starts. He jumps well.
Dancing Shadow won the inaugural running of the Bet365 Edinburgh National (3.15) and is likely to bid for a repeat, but Gonalston Cloud, who chased him home 12 months ago, may well turn the tables this time.
There was two-and-and-a-half lengths between them and Gonalston Cloud is now 9lb better off, so the revised ratings certainly favour him. He was a fair tenth in the Midlands National in April and caught my eye when finishing fifth in a marathon chase at Catterick recently.
Dancing Shadow won on his reappearance at Exeter in November, but that was over hurdles and he was allowed an easy lead. He ran no sort of race when tailed off at Sandown before Christmas on his only start over fences this season and is far from reliable.
Selections: 1.30 Tommy Silver; 2.05 Sir Chauvelin; 2.45 Contre Tous; 3.15 Gonalston Cloud.