Musselburgh’s feature jumps meeting of the season has caught the attention of leading trainers from across Scotland, England and Ireland.
The Scottish Cheltenham Trials Raceday on Sunday is now in its 12th year and is established in the racing industry as a bona fide trials day for horses and leading stables preparing for next month’s Cheltenham Festival or Aintree’s Grand National festival in April.
The eight races all mirror closely Cheltenham contests and with total prize money of £163,000, the two feature races are the £30,000 ToteTrifecta Scottish Triumph Hurdle (2pm) and the £25,000 Totepool Scottish Country Hurdle (3pm), both over two miles.
At the entries stage, leading trainers indicating they will be at Musselburgh on Sunday include champion trainer Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson, David Pipe, Dan Skelton and Irish raider and past Grand National winner Gordon Elliott.
Closer to home, Scotland is well represented by Lucinda Russell, Jim Goldie and James Ewart, whose Aristo Du Plessis, a New Year’s Day winner at Musselburgh, is expected to race in the Scottish County Hurdle before heading to Cheltenham to compete in the Champion Hurdle.
Malton handler Brian Ellison, meanwhile, is looking forward to stepping Always Resolute up in class for the Sky Bet Supreme Scottish Trial Novices’ Hurdle at the East Lothian track.
No great shakes on the level, the five-year-old was an effortless winner on his hurdling debut at Catterick and was in the process of defying a penalty in easy style when he came down at the final flight back at that venue.
Ellison saw enough there to believe he would not be out of place against some smart youngsters, with the likes of Henderson, Nicholls and Skelton all set to have runners, not to mention Kim Bailey’s Charbel, who was second to Yanworth last time out.
“Always Resolute will be going to Musselburgh on Sunday for the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Supreme Novices’ Chase,” said Ellison.
“He is basically a very good jumper. When he ran last time, I think if Danny [Cook, jockey] had sat quiet on him rather than ask him for a big one at the last, he would have been OK.
“The horse has done well since he joined us and he will be getting an entry for Cheltenham, although I think he may be more of a horse for Aintree in the long-run. We will see how he gets on this weekend and take it from there.”
Musselburgh Racecourse general manager Bill Farnsworth, said Sunday’s card was shaping up to be an ‘excellent day of top class jumps racing’.
“With more than 130 entries and prize money in excess of £160,000, Scottish Cheltenham Trials Day has earned its place as one of the key National Hunt fixtures of the season,” said Farnsworth.
“The day provides a great platform for Scottish racing fans who can get a close look at potential contenders for the two great National Hunt festivals.”
As an incentive to attract a new generation of racing fans, Musselburgh are offering free entry to students (with official ID) on Sunday, however tickets must be obtained online at www.musselburgh-racecourse.co.uk and cannot be purchased on the day.
5:40 Cultured Knight
6:10 Jammy Guest
6:40 Winged Dancer
7:10 Innoko (nap)
1:50 Potters Legend
2:25 Anda De Grissay
3:00 April Dusk
3:35 Fort Smith
4:40 Global Dream
1:40 Bay Sly
2:10 Chocca Wocca, 2:45 Souriyan
3:20 Magic Money
1:30 Golans Choice
2:35 Pain Au Chocolat
3:10 Special Catch
3:45 What A Dream
4:20 Pamak D’Airy