MUSSELBURGH features some attractive racing but all eyes will be focused on Epsom where MADHMOON (4.30) can gun down Aidan O’Brien’s Magnificent 7 in the Investec Derby.
Punters have been tying themselves in knots trying to unravel O’Brien’s pecking order and the betting is not always the best of guides. Hark back to 2017 when his 40-1 outsider Wings Of Eagles sent the feathers flying by swooping to catch Ryan Moore on Cliffs of Moher.
One of the more fancied of O’Brien’s raiding party is Broome but he got a rear view of Madhmoon at Leopardstown last September when the track was riding quick. The Downs will have dried out under a baking sun by late Saturday afternoon and that will suit Madhmoon.
Kevin Prendergast’s colt finished fourth to Magna Grecia in the Qipco 2000 Guineas and has yet to race beyond a mile. Undoubtedly, that’s a negative when it comes to assessing his prospects of staying 12 furlongs but connections appear optimistic.
Yesterday’s Oaks tip Maqsad was travelling as well as anything two out before running out of steam and there is always the chance that Madhmoon may prove another short-runner. How horses handle the hoop-la and drawn-out preliminaries in a heatwave is another imponderable but the tension all adds to Derby Day fascination.
Anthony Van Dyck and Virgil van Dijk will be a popular ‘mug’s double’ and it is not hard to see the former running very well after winning his Lingfield Derby Trial. He didn’t beat much that day but appeared a stout stayer, while Telecaster won a stronger Dante Stakes at York.
ROYAL COSMIC (5.30) should be worth the wait in the concluding lady riders’ handicap at Musselburgh.
Richard Fahey’s mare stayed on strongly to hunt up easy winner Charles Kingsley at Hamilton in midweek and has won here in the past on soft ground, albeit off a lower mark. Richard Fahey has booked Megan Nicholls.
ROCHESTER HOUSE (3.25) was no match for his Mark Johnston stablemate Summer Moon at York but finished just behind Sir Michael Stoute’s favourite Laafy. He meets some stern opposition in the 1m 4f handicap but has six lengths in hand of York fourth Dark Lochnagar. Keith Dalgleish’s colt will be much more at home with some mud flying and rates a fair each-way alternative.
William Haggas is a keen supporter of Musselburgh and unexposed Just Benjamin beat an odds-on shot when scoring at Brighton on a fast track.
The Listed filles’ race affords INDIAN BLESSING (4.00) a golden opportunity if she is in the same form as when third to Pretty Baby in a Group 3 at Goodwood last August. Ed Walker sent her to the Curragh in April to contest another Group event but she finished in the ruck behind Happen. This is a bit easier.
Haggas saddles Ice Gala with a chance on her Newbury third last October and she mopped up a Salisbury handicap on reappearance in April.
FURZIG (2.15) is up 5lb for his Thirsk success over in-form Saisons D’Or and Make Me, and could kick-start a money-spinning day for the Fahey yard (Fahey also saddles fancied My Kinda Day in the opener).
Mulligatawny did us a turn at Ayr but managed only fifth spot on his last Musselburgh appearance off an 8lb lower mark. Swift Emperor’s second to Kylie Rules is solid form but he never seems to put two successive good runs together.
The Fahey-trained KING OF TONGA (2.50) was beaten on the nod by Motafaawit at Beverley and didn’t enjoy the best of passages at Chester last time before staying on into fourth behind Lincoln Park. Stall two is ideal and we know he handles cut underfoot.
My selection holds Celebrity Dancer on a line through Motafaawit’s subsequent Ascot victory and a bigger danger will be Reeves, a well-hold second to yesterday’s classy Epsom winner Space Blues at York.
Aplomb steps up in trip after finishing second at Ascot (soft) and is open to improvement. Brian Epstein represents Richard Hannon and his second to Artistic Rifles at Doncaster entitles him to respect in an open event,
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