Big guns Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson support Musselburgh’s Cheltenham trials

Trainer Paul Nicholls has sent a strong string to Musselburgh's Cheltenham trials meeting. Picture: Julian Herbert/PA
Trainer Paul Nicholls has sent a strong string to Musselburgh's Cheltenham trials meeting. Picture: Julian Herbert/PA
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Several big guns have made their way to Musselburgh’s bet365 Scottish Cheltenham Trials Festival this weekend, with Paul Nicholls sending 11 horses over both days, while champion trainer Nicky Henderson has three of his leading novice hurdlers competing on tomorrow’s card.

Thefeature race today is the £40,000 bet365 Edinburgh National Handicap Chase over four miles. It has 12 runners, with Relentless Dreamer the sole Welsh raider trained by Rebecca Curtis, while Sandy Thomson-trained Full Jack flies the flag for Scotland.

Likely market principals Delusionofgrandeur and Missed Approach are trained by Sue Smith and Warren Greatrex respectively, while last year’s two-and-a-half length winner, Dancing Shadow, again makes the long journey up to East Lothian from Victor Dartnall’s Devon base.

The six Saturday runners for Nicholls, pictured, include Marracudja in the bet365 Scottish Champion Chase. The Somerset visitor is partnered by Bryony Frost, who has been making plenty of headlines in big races down south lately.

Jonathan Burke has his first ride at Musselburgh in the bet365 Scottish County Hurdle on dual hurdle course winner Forth Bridge, who is owned by The Queen and trained by Charlie Longsdon, while Jim Goldie’s Sir Chauvelin, a winner over course and distance on New Year’s Day, will face off again with Donald McCain-trained Dear Sire who came down at the third last in that first meeting of the year.

In the bet365 Scottish Foxhunter Open Hunters’ Chase top amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen takes the ride on Wonderful Charm who was pipped by a neck in the Cheltenham equivalent after his win in this same race 12 months ago.

A great supporter of this Scottish Cheltenham Trials meeting, Nicky Henderson is pinning his hopes on Sunday success and said: “We’ve always had a bit of luck and you are running on decent ground for pretty good prize money.”

Henderson’s first runner is We Have A Dream in the bet365 Scottish Triumph Hurdle Trial and a win in this event would make it a hat-trick for the Seven Barrows-based handler. We Have A Dream is co-second favourite for the Festival juvenile showpiece after winning his last three races in the colours of Simon Munir and Issac Souede.

Henderson also saddles Claimantakingforgan in the Sky Bet Supreme Scottish Trail Novices’ Hurdle, one of the highest rated horses running over the two days on a BHA mark of 146. Rivals include the Kevin Ryan-trained November course and distance winner Beyond The Clouds.

On the same lofty rating is Henderson’s final runner, Nico De Boinville-ridden Mr Whipped in the Albert Bartlett Scottish Trial Novices’ Hurdleand, as a Grade 2 winner at Warwick last month, the stable will be hoping to repeat their 2016 success when O O Seven claimed the honours.

Musselburgh Racecourse chief executive Bill Farnsworth said: “For Scottish racing fans all eyes are on Musselburgh this weekend.

“It’s great to welcome the big name trainers and to see at first hand what may be heading for the Cheltenham Festival but I don’t expect they will have it all their own way and our home grown trainers will be out to cause a few upsets. The stage is set for an excellent weekend of top quality racing.”