There are five meetings in the UK on Saturday though only one on turf as the racing in the flat season begins with all the momentum of a tortoise. Let’s see if we can find something a little faster to get us into the black.
Musselburgh provides the sole Flat turf action and in the 4.35 Class 2 Conditions Stakes the old warrior Borderlescott is highest rated at the veteran age of 10. Robin Bastiman’s stable-star and winner of two Group 1′s made his seasonal re-appearance at Lingfield last month in a race which should have him in tip-top condition for Saturday and this genuine sprinter will have his supporters. In opposition lies Hamish Mcgonagall, the Musselburgh course specialist having won on four occasions from six outings at the track. Tim Easterby’s seven-year old finished third in the Prix de l’Abbaye when last witnessed and precluded that with a 3/4 length second in the Nunthorpe. Should Hamish Mcgonagall reproduce that form then this front-runner will be difficult to pass.
The 2.45 at Musselburgh is a Class 2 Maiden Stakes over the minimum trip for two-year old’s with Just Past Andover making a quick return to the track having finished fourth in the Brocklesby on Lincoln Day. That was a pleasing debut in good company and he should be capable of shedding his maiden tag.
Over the obstacles, in the 4.05 at Haydock, Chris Grant’s Rock Relief won a class 4 Novices Hurdle in taking style in the middle of last month when hammering the useful Record Breaker by 12 lengths. This Class 3 Novices Hurdle shall be far more taxing with the big guns trainers represented by the likes of Fourth Estate, Sydney Paget and The Tracey Shuffle. Rock Relief however looks open to progression and this 11,000 guineas acquisition from the Mark Prescott yard is each-way playable.
Another horse who looks ready to rumble on Saturday at Newton Abbot is Black Thunder. Champion trainer Paul Nicholls’ five-year old landed a bumper at this course last May and his career over jumps took off when defeating the more than useful pair Captain Sunshine and Talkonthestreet at Taunton in December. That form is a solid yardstick and he should be capable of landing the Novices Hurdle at 3.05.