Samtu was a very easy winner at Musselburgh two weeks ago and looks all set to stage a repeat performance there on Thursday.
That was his chasing debut, but the gelding jumped well and made all the running to come home ten lengths clear, so he can overcome a 6lbs hike in the ratings in the Racing TV Handicap Chase (2.10) over the same three-mile trip.
The eight-year-old has eight victories on his CV and has been successful on the flat turf, on the all-weather, over hurdles and now over fences, so clearly has plenty of ability.
He began life with Clive Brittain in Newmarket and had been in several yards since then before Barry Murtagh gave 6500 guineas for him at the sales last May.
Samtu was placed three times from ten starts over hurdles for his new connections – including a third placing here in November – but Murtagh always thought he would improve over the larger obstacles.
“He’s had plenty of schooling at home and always jumped well. We just waited for the right race on the right ground. He needs decent underfoot conditions,” said the Cumbria trainer.
With perfect ground forecast, the gelding should certainly have things to his liking.
Always Lion was off the track for 20 months before finishing fourth here recently, so will be much fitter now and can take the Every Race Live on Racing TV Handicap Hurdle (3.20).
The gelding made a successful debut in a bumper at Worcester almost six years ago, but he been dogged by training problems since then and has run only seven more times in the interim. He is distinctly useful though, running with credit in top bumpers and winning over hurdles at Ludlow late in 2015.
There followed a 550-day lay-off before he reappeared to win at Market Rasen in May of last year when trained by Ben Pauling. He joined Iain Jardine in the Borders last autumn and his recent return to action on the East Lothian track suggests he still retains plenty of zest.
He was sent off favourite and raced prominently until weakening from the third last and was eased when all winning chance had gone. The switch to the smaller obstacles tomorrow should pose no problems.
PC Dixon is closely related to a smart jumper and won over hurdles himself at Hexham last term as well as being placed on seven occasions. He has raced without success so far this term, but can make a winning debut over fences in the Watch Racing TV Now Novices Handicap Chase (3.55).
He was tailed off on his reappearance in December, but a cut leg had held up his preparation. He has progressed since then and weakened only at the penultimate flight at Sedgefield last month. Those efforts have seen him slip 8lbs in the ratings and it’s worth noting that he took several runs to reach peak fitness last term too.
Chain of Beacons has made the frame in four of his five races this winter, including when second and third on this track either side of Christmas. He was beaten 24 lengths at Carlisle latest, but a bad blunder at the final fence made than effort look much worse than it really was and he can take advantage of a low weight in the RacingTV.com Handicap Chase (3.20)
Selections: 2.10 Samtu; 2.45 Chain of Beacons; 3.20 Always Lion; 3.55 PC Dixon.