Cheltenham Trials action set for Musselburgh Racecourse
CHAMPION jumps trainer Paul Nicholls has a flurry of entries at Musselburgh Racecourse this weekend.
The bet365 Scottish Cheltenham Trials over Saturday and Sunday is widely regarded as a prep event for the big jumps festivals at Cheltenham and Aintree in March and April. This year, the county course is putting up prize money totalling £290,000 over the two days, and the entries indicate high-quality fields.
Previous Musselburgh winner Nayati is among the entries for the £40,000 bet365 Scottish County Hurdle on Saturday and the Donald McCain-trained horse is looking to follow up on his New Year’s Day victory, when he landed the Hogmaneigh Handicap Hurdle.
Other previous winners at the East Lothian venue include stablemate Collingham, Ruth Jefferson’s Inca Prince and last year’s winner Laura Morgan, who like Collingham is owned by Dundee United director Jimmy Fyffe.
Captain Cattistock and Mighty Thunder, the last two winners of the £50,000 bet365 Edinburgh National, are among the entries for the 2023 renewal of the near-four-mile contest. The former, trained by Fergal O’Brien near Cheltenham, scored 12 months ago under Liam Harrison, who is likely to be in the saddle again.
Mighty Thunder represents Milnathort’s Lucinda Russell, with Scottish interest also appearing in the shape of the Sandy Thomson-trained Flower Of Scotland which won the Borders National at Kelso in December and is owned by former Musselburgh Racecourse director Ray Anderson Green, and another recent Kelso winner Just Don’t Know, trained in Hawick by Paul Robson.
In the bet365 Scottish Stayers’ Novices’ Hurdle, 13-time champion jumps trainer Nicholls has 15 entries, including Outlaw Peter, co-owned by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
The most valuable race on Sunday is the £40,000 bet365 Scottish Triumph Hurdle, a Class 1 Listed contest staged over two miles. Paul Nicholls’ Afadil and Fergal O’Brien’s Fils De Rio will both be popular with the punters.
Harry Derham, who used to be assistant to Nicholls, has made a good start to his own training career and he is represented by Fidelio Dreams in the bet365 Scottish Champion Handicap Chase.
Olly Murphy was formerly in the same role with Gordon Elliott and he has booked Aidan Coleman for the ride on Chasing Fire in the bet365 Scottish Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Gates open at 11am both days. Visit musselburgh-racecourse.co.uk for tickets.