Musselburgh trials lure star turn

 

Musselburgh trials day does not quite have the same ring to it as Cheltenham trials day, but racing is nevertheless most grateful to the enterprise shown at the Scottish racecourse and those at other venues responsible for keeping the jumping show properly on the road over the next few days.

The weather has been kinder in the Edinburgh area than it has been over much of England and Musselburgh is set fair to stage a day of Cheltenham Festival examinations on Sunday, although in truth only a handful of those in action north of the border are likely to line up at the Cotswolds in March.

But one who surely will is last year's Champion Hurdle runner-up, Overturn, now making such a big impression over fences that he seems the only realistic danger to the brilliant Simonsig in the Arkle Trophy.

Donald McCain, his trainer, asked Musselburgh to add an Arkle trial to their programme and the course readily agreed.

Overturn is a dashing front-runner and Musselburgh is a sharp, right-handed track, two factors which should combine to spectacular effect. It will be surprising if he does not win in a canter, but it will provide a valuable workout before his encounter with Simonsig.

Tap Night, not in the same league over hurdles, but potentially a high-class chaser, is one of the few who might get Overturn off the bridle, but Lucinda Russell, his Scottish-based trainer, could instead run her new stable star in another race later on the same card.

"We'll choose on Friday," she said. "It's not so much a question of sidestepping Overturn as deciding whether or not to try Tap Night over an extra half-mile.

"But this is such a brilliant initiative by Musselburgh. Not too long ago, this sort of flexibility would have been unheard of but now, with Twitter and everything, we can communicate so quickly and racing can get things like this done if it puts its mind to it."

Russell sent out her first Cheltenham Festival winner last spring when Brindisi Breeze won the long-distance novice hurdle and one of her rewards has been the patronage of J P McManus, who now owns Tap Night.

Sandown will inspect again at 8am this morning to determine whether Saturday's meeting can go ahead in its original format or as an all-chase card, with the hurdle races abandoned.

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