Iain Jardine has his eye on the feature race on day one of Musselburgh’s Cheltenham trials card for the second year running.
Twelve months ago the Carrutherstown trainer landed the bet 365 Scottish County Hurdle with Shrewd and this time he is aiming Traditional Dancer at the £50,000 prize.
Jardine said: “He ran a big race when a close third to a Cheltenham festival winner in Superb Story over course and distance on New Year’s Day. He’s come out of the race very well and he’s won at Carlisle, Kelso and Perth so it doesn’t matter if he goes right or left-handed.
“Ideally a longer trip would help but he’s got a high cruising speed and, although he hasn’t got the Flat class of Shrewd, he’s a proper national hunt horse.
“He can only get better with age as he has still to fill into his frame and he should make a lovely steeplechaser one day. Before that, fingers crossed, he’ll run a big race on Saturday.”
Among the rivals for Traditional Dancer is the Megan Carberry-ridden Dominada, a combination who made all over a longer trip at the East Lothian venue on New Year’s Day.
It’s also great to see Gold Cup winning jockey Nico de Boinville making a rare visit and his three rides include a jumps debutante in Soldier In Action for his boss Nicky Henderson in the Scottish Triumph Hurdle. A terrific Listed contest also contains impressive recent course and distance scorer Project Bluebook and unbeaten Fidux, a rare Musselburgh runner for Lanarkshire-born Alan King.
A cracking meeting also sees the inaugural running of the Edinburgh National over a stamina-sapping 4m 1f.
Paul Nicholls saddles top weight Just A Par while Alvarado stays all day and was runner-up in last year’s Scottish National as well as coming fourth in the 2014 and 2015 Aintree equivalent.
On the second day of the meeting, Overland Flyer, thoroughly impressive on his British bow at Taunton last month, can follow up in the Albert Bartlett Scottish Trial Novices’ Hurdle. The six-year-old is in the frame for the big one at the Festival and victory here would surely see Paul Nicholls’ runner slashed in price for the three-mile heat. Winner of two of his three point-to-point outings, Overland Flyer went off at 3-1 in the West Country and he made a mockery of that as he strolled home by 22 lengths. This is obviously a bigger test of his abilities but Overland Flyer is hard to oppose on what he has shown so far.