STRONGPOINT romped to an all-the-way victory for the Irish combination of Peter Buchanan and Stuart Crawford in the 32Red.com Handicap Hurdle at Musselburgh.
Pinching five-lengths from the gate, Buchanan and his willing partner were never headed as they slammed 100-30 favourite Big Water by 17-lengths.
Crawford said: “This horse has winning course form over three miles so I knew he wouldn’t be stopping. Peter was great and I don’t need to be giving a man of his experience any instructions.
“He was racing at Perth earlier in the year, as it suited his schedule having just come in from the point to point field. He stands his racing well and we’ll look for something else for him over Christmas.”
The other feature race, the eastlothian.gov.uk Handicap Chase went to Kealigolane, the subject of another front-running ride from James Reveley. Winning trainer Barry Murtagh said: “He’s been a great horse for us and he won at least one race in the past three seasons since coming to our yard. I was confident he would stay three miles and James suits him as he has a nice, quiet style.”
John Ferguson’s Population, who has been performing well in handicap company, opened his account for Denis O’Regan in the 32Red.com Maiden Hurdle.
O’Regan, who completed a full house of winning rides on Britain’s jumps courses at Warwick on Sunday, said: “I’m only missing Ballinrobe in Ireland now and Mr Ferguson has said he will give me a few there so I can tick that one off as well – I don’t suppose many jockeys will have ridden a winner on every track in the UK and Ireland.
“I’m delighted Population has got his head in front as he works like some machine at home.”
Leading Scottish jumps handler Lucinda Russell saddled a double courtesy of Lord Of Drums and It’s High Time. And Wilson Renwick, on board It’s High Time, also doubled up as he landed the three mile handicap hurdle on Keith Dalgleish-trained Luctor Emergo.
At Uttoxeter today, African Gold is expected to bounce back from a disappointing debut over fences at Cheltenham when he lines up for the Quicksilverslots Play £500 Roulette Novices’ Chase.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained five-year-old was a well beaten third behind Le Bec over an extended three miles last month, but has pleased connections since then.
“He’s had a good run since that race. He’s schooled well and I’m looking forward to it,” said jockey Sam Twiston-Davies.
“At Cheltenham he got very tired and hopefully he’s back on the right track.”
African Gold was a leading staying novice hurdler last term, winning four races on the bounce before finishing second to At Fishers Cross in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Among African Gold’s seven rivals at the Staffordshire track are Jeremy Scott’s Ballinahow Star, who was second there on his chasing debut, Paul Webber’s Sixty Something and the Tim Vaughan-trained Milborough.