IT has been a tough season for Ben Pauling, with the stable under a cloud and winners very hard to find, but his luck should turn at Musselburgh where GUENA DES MOTTES (2.15) makes his British debut in the Juvenile Hurdle.
The three-year-old is owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, whose colours were carried to victory by Top Notch in the big race at Huntingdon yesterday, and they have found their latest French import a low-key contest. Building Bridges beat Hasankey in a Navan maiden in June and they cross swords again with little to choose between the ex-Irish duo. It will come as a shock if they prove good enough to trouble the favourite and El Picador is probably a bigger threat.
The same silks are carried by UNAI (12.45) in the two-mile maiden hurdle and he should be capable of stepping up on his debut third in a bumper at Warwick in April. Winner Overthetop has gone on to score over hurdles. Malystic, a dual Newcastle bumper winner for Peter Niven, caught the eye on hurdles debut at Ayr, going well until unseating his rider three out in the race won by useful Timetochill.
The Pauling yard could have yet another winner courtesy of ESPOIR DE LOIRE (1.15) in the Novices’ Handicap Chase. He won a Warwick handicap hurdle in March and that speed could prove an invaluable tool against some exposed rivals. Benny’s Secret was produced with a perfectly timed run to score over course and distance in early November but is not sure to confirm places with runner-up Izzy’s Champion on revised terms. Castletown isn’t easy to catch right but didn’t do much wrong when chasing home Court Master here a fortnight ago. The grey shouldn’t be far away again.
THECLOCKISTICKING (2.45) is trading at fairly restrictive odds but the southern raider is the most likely winner of the three-mile handicap hurdle. He was a smart novice hurdler but has found life tough since graduating to handicaps off a fairly lofty rating. With talented Ben Jones taking off 5lb he should have the measure of course and distance scorer Arthurs Secret, runner-up in this event last year.