Fingers crossed for Musselburgh to beat the freeze

Clerk of Musselburgh Racecourse 'Harriet Graham is hoping for a thaw. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Clerk of Musselburgh Racecourse 'Harriet Graham is hoping for a thaw. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Musselburgh’s race meeting tomorrow hinges entirely on the weather with an inspection planned for 8am.

With free entry for all, there will be plenty of fingers crossed that the fixture gets the green light, but the forecast indicates that the freezing night time temperatures are likely to persist.

“That could make things very tricky,” said Clerk of the Course Harriett Graham. “We have had some rain, but there is still frost in the ground in places and it is proving difficult to shift.

“We are forecast to get down to -2 or -3 over the next couple of nights, but unfortunately the daytime temperatures are only forecast to get up to 3 degrees. That’s hardly enough to get rid of all the frost that is in the ground and so we are on a knife edge.”

The East Lothian track is all set to open the gates with free admission for all tomorrow, the cost being underwritten by the track’s bookmakers, so a healthy crowd is anticipated if racing goes ahead.

“There has been a suggestion that if the weather does not relent in time, we could roll the meeting over to Thursday. It would entail the co-operation of the BHA and the logistics of arranging medical cover and all the other behind the scenes necessities are difficult, but we have already discussed it and will monitor the whole scenario very closely,” Harriett told me.

One man hoping racing goes ahead is Borders trainer Ian Jardine who has outstanding prospects of a double with Shrewd and Stoneham.

The latter was successful both on the flat and over hurdles for Mick Channon before Ian bought her at the Doncaster sales early in September and the five-year-old made a successful start for his Bonchester Bridge yard when winning over hurdles at Sedgefield.

The mare, who carries the colours of the Edinburgh-based Dregs of Humanity syndicate, was unplaced when upped considerably in distance and class at Cheltenham last month. She was hampered at the halfway stage though and will find things easier in tomorrow’s M-pac Developments Cosmic case Mares Only Novices Hurdle (2.20).

Jardine can complete the double with Shrewd in the Loganbet Brechin Big Layers on Football Handicap Hurdle (2.55). The six-year-old was successful four times on the level in the early days of his career and opened his account over hurdles on this course just over a fortnight ago.

Sent off a well-backed favourite, the gelding led at the penultimate flight and soon went clear to beat a previous winner by an easy six lengths. The handicapper has put him up 15lb, so this will be much harder, but Shrewd was once rated as high as 93 on the level and is clearly in good shape.

Veteran Solway Sam is best at Perth where he has registered four of his eight career wins, but he has made the frame in all five of his starts at Musselburgh and may be worth a small bet in the Handicap hurdle (4.05).

Runner-up at Ayr in November, he was then third twice over this course and distance doing all his best work at the finish.

Wakhan finally opened his account at the 24th time of asking when taking a novice handicap chase here on New Year’s day and he can follow up in the Racing Post Owners Jackpot Conditional Jockeys Handicap Chase (1.10).

He had been placed ten times before that initial victory and can defy a 6lb hike in the weights over the same course and distance.

Musselburgh selections: 1.10 Wakhan; 2.20 Stoneham; 2.55 Shrewd; 4.05 Solway Sam.