Race Time: 2.25pm Meeting: Musselburgh Distance: 1m 6f
Full Race Name: mytotepool.com Balmoral Cup Handicap (Class 2)
Our tip for the 2.25pm Musselburgh live on Channel 4 Racing is:
A total of 11 runners are set to go to post at Musselburgh and whilst there are only three distance winners in the pack, this may just turn out to be a more open class two than many might imagine. Bayan, who was an Ante Post favourite to take the Cheltenham Festival’s Coral Cup, is one of these distance victors and will be returning to the flat after failing to make an impression in Auteuil’s Grade Three Juigne Hurdle – the race he missed the Festival for. Gordon Elliott’s six-year-old runs off a mark of 87 following his last outing at this distance at Leopardstown, he picking up fourth place behind John Kiely’s listed winner Toe The Line. He will continue to be adorned with both a tongue-strap and sheepskin cheekpieces to give him every hope today, and at his best he certainly looks to be well handicapped for his trainer who is pretty adept at switching horses from hurdles to the flat and back again when necessary.
The other 14f success stories are Tony Carroll’s Keys and Richard Fahey’s Gabrial The Terror. An also-ran in the 2011 Cesarewitch for former trainer Roger Charlton, Keys is back on the flat after five failed attempts at hurdles. A real trier, the eight-year-old finished second on all five occasions. Three of these outings came after his mammoth three years off the track. The Doyen-sired mount is, expectedly, down in weight following his absence from the flat and has another 7lbs removed thanks to having claimer Tom Marquand aboard. In contrast, Fahey’s Gabrial The Terror carries a 6lb penalty after the latter of his quartet of Wolverhampton wins on the All Weather. The Marwan Koukash charge will also be having his first run on good-to-soft (as it stands) as well as taking a marked step up in class.
Class is one thing that Mark Johnston’s four-year-old top weight Fire Fighting won’t be concerned with. Last season he lined up in a string of listed races before finding himself in a Group Three Meydan stakes. He hasn’t troubled the winners enclosure since a win over 10f at Ayr back in September but it may just be a matter of time, he only defeated by a short head over 11f at Kempton last time out. He is set to be fitted with blinkers once again. With regular runs on the All Weather as well as fast ground, this Alan Spence charge may be another that struggles with the conditions, especially with the maximum burden.
Aramist is a horse on the up, successfully appearing in the upper echelons of class two races at the tail end of last season. Whilst the five-year-old looks to be more steady than impressive, he is one who has something of a vein of form on good-to-soft whilst the Alan Swinbank runner does also tend to run well after the requisite off-season break. He picked up back-to-back wins for the first time in his career in his first two runs of last season and is hoping to achieve his first win over 14f on his fourth start at the distance, when he runs off a mark of 90.