Musselburgh kick off their winter season with the first of ten jumps fixtures tomorrow after a highly-successful summer campaign.
Crowds on the East Lothian track during the flat season just ended were on a par with last year, much to the delight of racecourse boss Bill Farnsworth.
He said: “We seemed to have bucked the trend as the national average was down somewhat, but we had good weather for our two big meetings in June and that certainly makes a difference.
“Now we are looking forward to some good sport this winter. The going is good with a couple of good to firm places, but we have rain forecast over the next 24 hours or so underfoot conditions should be perfect.”
Brian Hughes is the leading jockey over obstacles in the North and he looks set for a good day when Beyond the Clouds rates banker-bet material in the Alastair Montgomery Trust Novices Hurdle (1.50). Trained by Kevin Ryan in North Yorkshire, the four-year-old is a half-brother to two winners on the level and made a successful debut in a bumper on this track in January before finishing second here the following month.
The gelding resumed winning ways at Worcester in the spring before a summer break and returned to action at Kelso a month ago when he easily justified hot favouritism to make a successful start to his hurdling career. He jumped with aplomb and a 7lbs penalty is unlikely to stop him from following up here, while Hughes can also score on Bright Prospect for Jackie Stephens, who trains a small string up in Aberdeenshire.
The gelding was a winner in Ireland before joining her team at Inverurie and was a wide margin winner under Hughes at Perth last year.
The eight-year-old has not run since finishing second at Perth late in April, but often runs well fresh and stays this three mile trip well, so gets the vote in the Finest Racing on Racing UK Handicap Chase (3.30)
Buckled was a ready winner at Kelso recently and can take the opening ROAS/Racing Post Owners Jackpot Handicap Hurdle (12.45) for Kelso trainer Sandy Thomson.
The gelding scored over this course last spring and was third on his reappearance at Perth in September before that Kelso victory for which the handicapper has raised him 5lbs, That should not prove excessive.
Thomson can complete a double with John Williams in the Racing UK Profits Returned to Racing Handicap Chase (2.25).
The gelding opened his account under rules in a novice chase at this corresponding fixture 12 months ago and made a successful reappearance at Hexham last month where he made much of the running before rallying in good style to regain the lead in the closing stages.
That was over two miles and he tackles the same trip again off a mark just 2lbs higher, so he is likely to take some beating.
Selections: 12.45 Buckled; 1.50 Beyond the Clouds; 2.25 John Williams; 3.30 Bright Prospect.