Maastricht leads raiding party at Musselburgh

MUSSELBURGH holds a meeting fit for Derby Day this afternoon, with a crowd of more than 6,000 ready to pack into the East Lothian course to enjoy the best day’s Flat racing on the track’s calendar.

The ultra-competitive £50,000 Totepool Edinburgh Cup and £40,000 Totescoop6 Scottish Sprint Cup are supported by two £20,000 contests and the riches up for grabs have succeeded in tempting some high-calibre runners from south of the Border, with the usual strong contingent of local stables vying to keep the prize money in Scotland.

The first four races will all be televised by Channel 4, starting at 1.55 with the toteplacepot Edinburgh Castle Stakes.

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This £20,000 conditions race for two-year-olds sees the reappearance of Rhagori Aur, an impressive winner on her debut at Thirsk. Trainer Bryan Smart has an excellent strike rate in juvenile events at Musselburgh and his speedy filly can prove too classy for previous course winner, Tatlisu.

The £20,000 totepool Tradesman’s Derby at 2.25 provides Rocktherunway with a sporting chance of building on his commanding victory at Newcastle. Michael Dods’ three-year-old had earlier gone close at Thirsk and should be suited to 12 furlongs round Musselburgh.

Seventeen runners are scheduled to go to post for the Scottish Sprint, with just about the entire field holding some sort of claim to victory on the best of their form.

Kevin Ryan holds a particularly strong hand. His top weight, Bajan Tryst, is a major contender but stablemate Partner, still on an attractive mark and a decisive winner of a similar Class 2 Sprint at Thirsk, may be the one to side with – but could be hard pressed by Foxy Music who was a close fourth at Thirsk and is trained by Eric Alston.

Another to consider is Dancing Freddy, who has been in outstanding form and a big run is expected with William Carson taking the ride.

In the Edinburgh Cup, it’s hard to look past Mark Johnston, who has shown his determination to retain the trophy he won last year with Eternal Heart. The Middleham maestro supplies five runners, and Maastricht may be the pick of his nap hand. The biggest danger to Joe Fanning’s mount could be Sparkling Portrait, the top weight, who has looked the part this season, adding another two victories to the one he closed his juvenile campaign with last year. Richard Fahey’s runner does have a big weight of 9st 7lb to shoulder, however, and with Maastricht in receipt of almost a stone, preference has to be the Johnston raider on this occasion.

Meanwhile, on a busy weekend of racing, Mikel Delzangles is keeping his fingers crossed the decision to bypass the Investec Derby at Epsom in favour of the French equivalent pays off with his unbeaten colt, Kesampour, tomorrow.

Kesampour will face 19 opponents in the Prix du Jockey Club over ten and a half furlongs at Chantilly. “He is in very good form,” said Delzangles. “It will be interesting to see what happens with the ground, but I don’t think it should be an issue for him either way.”

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Kesampour is one of two runners in the French Classic for owner the Aga Khan, the other being the Alain de Royer-Dupre-trained Lunayir.

Another contender for the home team is French Fifteen, who was beaten a neck by Investec Derby favourite Camelot in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. Brian Meehan’s Most Improved makes his belated seasonal reappearance, having missed the Craven Stakes and the 2000 Guineas due to a setback. The third British contender is the John Gosden-trained Gregorian, a close-up fifth from a bad draw in the French 2000 Guineas. Aidan O’Brien sends unbeaten Sandown Classic Trial winner Imperial Monarch from Ireland and he will be ridden by his son, Joseph.