Racing: Wild Geese tipped to fly at Perth

IN GOOD weather, Perth racecourse comes into its own as one of the most picturesque tracks in the world and, with sunshine forecast for today’s meeting, there’s sure to be big crowd heading to the races.

Highlight of the seven-race meeting is the £25,000 Aviva City of Perth Gold Cup at 4.30.

The three mile handicap steeplechase has attracted runners from some of the biggest yards in England, but a Scottish-trained horse is quietly fancied to get a place at least.

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Lucinda Russell’s Wild Geese led from start to finish in his last outing over course and distance when he won the Salutation Hotel Perth Handicap Chase, and Russell confirmed that her charge is in good heart.

“He has gone up 9lbs for that win,” said Russell, pictured, “and this is a huge step up in class for him, but you can’t win unless you have a go.

“He is owned by the Tay Valley Chasers Racing Club who are based at Perth and who got him for £8,500. It’s good that he loves it round Perth. He has got over the leg trouble which kept him out for more than a year, and he definitely benefited from the step up in trip last time out.

“He can make all the running, or not, so we’ll just have to see what [stable jockey] Peter Buchanan does with him.

“He has run well this season and I am happy with him at the moment. I would say he has a good chance at the weights.”

Others to watch out for are Merrion Square from the mighty stable of Paul Nicholls, and Irish raider Nedzer’s Return, trained by Gordon Elliott, who has become something of a winning fixture at Perth. Wild Geese each-way is the selection, however.

Let’s move from a long-distance chase that will take six minutes or so to complete to what will possibly be the fastest race ever held in Scotland.

The William Hill Scottish Sprint Cup over Musselburgh’s flying five furlongs will take place on Saturday afternoon and, if the going remains firm, there could be a whole host of runners completing the race in under a minute.

Some top sprinters have been entered for the race, which means we could see a course record at a track which is reckoned to be one of the fastest in Britain, never mind Scotland.

The prize money for the meeting will be £155,000, which racecourse manager Bill Farnsworth has confirmed as the richest pot ever offered at the East Lothian track.