The drinks could be on John Quinn at Musselburgh tomorrow when the Yorkshire trainer saddles two prominent challengers for the Edinburgh Gin’s Scottish Sprint Cup (2.30).
But the big question is which of his two runners will deliver for both El Astronaute and Soie d’Leau have been in great form and I reckon they could well fight out the finish to this £100,000 contest.
El Astronaute has been a revelation since returning from a winter break, going down only in a photo finish on his return to action at Ponteftract in April. The winner – Foolad – was completing a five-timer and has since finished second in a competitive affair at York. El Astronaute then led until the final 150 yards when third at Chester before a flying start saw him overcome a wide draw to win at York where he got the better of Dark Shot in a photo finish and that one renews rivalry tomorrow. Then El Astronaute almost won again on a quick return to the Knavesmire recently.
Once again he raced prominently before taking command approaching the final furlong, only to be caught in the dying strides and beaten a head. But those efforts have seen his handicap mark rise to a career high of 101 and a good draw near the stands rail is a big plus point.
The five-year-old may still be improving, but he is likely to be vying for favouritism and I prefer the chances of stable companion Soie d’Leau. The gelding won seven times when trained by Kristin Stubbs and moved to Quinn when she gave up her licence at the end of last term. The six-year-old made a successful bow for his new handler when making all the running to score at Thirsk three weeks ago.
He goes up 3lbs in the ratings, but should strip fitter now and although he has a wide draw, his prolific early pace can put him bang into contention.
Caspian Prince has top weight, but cannot be discounted. He won the valuable Epsom Dash and a Group Two event in Ireland last season and was fourth in this event 12 months ago, while Major Jumbo has also been running well of late.
The grey made a successful reappearance at Newmarket in April where he beat Move in Time by just more than a length. The latter has won since to boost the form and re-opposes on 1lb better terms tomorrow – not enough to turn the tables.
Major Jumbo has since finished close up behind El Astronaute twice at York and with Nicola Currie again claiming a handy 5lbs allowance, he has to enter calculations.
Line of Reason took this prize 12 months ago and is now 7lbs lower, but has been below par this term. However, he did stay on well to finish seventh, some four lengths behind El Astronaute at York and he could well get into the shake-up if he can recapture something like his best form.
However, I am happy to take an each-way chance with Soie d’Leau at odds of around 12-1 and I am sure he will give us a good run for our money.
Bedrock had some useful form for William Haggas in his early days and won twice over hurdles for Dan Skelton before joining Ian Jardine and winning over timber here in March and then finishing third in a competitive event at the Aintree Grand National festival.
The gelding was fifth at Doncaster on a return to the flat and then runner-up at Chelmsford. He can go one better in the £20,000 Edinburgh Gin’s Distillery Tour Handicap (4.20).
The early races are being screened nationally on ITV and Reverend Jacobs can get punters off to a flying start in the opening Edinburgh Gin’s Seaside Gin Handicap (1.55).
The four-year-old was runner-up in his first three races last term before signing off with a victory at Ascot and returned from a break of 250 days to make a successful reappearance at York last month. He made all there and can defy an 8lbs hike in the ratings.
Glasgow-based Jim Goldie has a good record here and can take the concluding Edinburgh Gin’s Rhubarb and Ginger Lucky Last Handicap (5.30) with Tommy G.
The five-year-old has only one win to his credit, but has made the frame on several occasions. He went down narrowly over the minimum trip here in March and was doing all his best work late when third over 6F at Doncaster recently.
Selections: 1.55 Reverend Jacobs; 2.30 Soie d’Leau; 4.30 Bedrock; 5.30 Tommy G