1.20 Musselburgh – BALLYBEN – 1pt each way at 5/1
Lucinda Russell is strongly represented in the 1.20pm three mile handicap chase at Musselburgh on Monday, with Itstimeforapint and BALLYBEN high up in the market for the Scottish handler. But the latter named eight-year-old gelding is preferred, given his consistency and general versatility in these types of races.
His last two runs were satisfactory efforts over three miles and two furlongs from marks of 120 and 118 respectively, where he weakened in the closing stages. Perhaps this step back to a straight three miles will see him finish off the race a lot better and the handicapper has relented further by dropping him to a mark of 115. Surprisingly enough, Ballyben is yet to visit Musselburgh during his twenty five career starts to date and although he is more prolific going left-handed, he has run some excellent races in defeat going right.
His stablemate Itstimeforapint has a 6lb rise in the handicap to defy here and his jockey Derek Fox is unable to claim which doesn’t help, and this is arguably a tougher race. Irish trainer Denis Hogan doesn’t send too many of his horses over here, so Eiri Na Casca jumps off the page with a racing weight of 10st 5lb. But the horse has never run over this trip and faces some strong stayers now. The eleven-year-old Mr Supreme would be a danger to all if displays the form that saw him win two races at Newcastle and Kelso in spring of 2014. But he hasn’t been seen since then and fitness and well-being can only be taken on trust.
This is a pretty tricky race, but Ballyben is dropping down in class, in distance and has the profile to run a big race here.
For an each-way punt in the 1.50pm handicap hurdle over the minimum jumping trip, underrated trainer Michael Smith’s MAKBULLET is tumbling down the weights and from a mark of 105 today under Henry Brooke, the nine-year-old could get into the mix at decent odds. He has run at Musselburgh six times in the past and the drop back to two miles may just help his cause.
1.20 Musselburgh – BALLYBEN – 1pt each way at 5/1 Ladbrokes
1.50 Musselburgh – MAKBULLET – 1pt each way at 12/1 Ladbrokes
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