IN SUMMARY: A tough race to call by any standards but at the prices it may be worth taking the risk on TIME TO STUDY who should be so much happier stepped up to this trip and can leave his last effort a long way behind. Mister Manduro seems the likeliest to chase the selection home, though Euro Nightmare is an interesting alternative and could run well.
1 TIME TO STUDY – Top weight for a good reason here after Mark Johnston’s son of Derby winner Motivator finished a highly respectable third on his seasonal return at Newbury when staying on strongly over a mile and a quarter despite meeting interference when looking for his run. The added trip today looks very interesting for a stable who have won this race three times in the last ten years with Quai D’Orsay, Eternal Heart, and Scatter Dice, and who are in among the winners with thirteen winners in the last two weeks.
2 MISTER MANDURO – With three runners in the race Yorkshire trainer Mark Johnston clearly wants to win this contest and at the odds Mister Manduro may well be the number one pick. Bred for stamina a thirty lengths last of nine at Newbury over a mile and a quarter was below expectations but no great surprise to anyone and he may be better judged on a head second to Hushood at Bath over a mile and a half or so and a repeat of that run would see him go very close this afternoon at these weights.
3 EURO NIGHTMARE – An interesting contender for the Keith Dalgleish stable and looks likely to do much better this season than last. After she finished second at Ayr last September her owners said “….We look forward to next year as Keith thinks she will grow quite a bit”, a statement that seems to ring true after a comfortable win on her return over nine furlongs here at Musselburgh but this is a huge step up in trip. As a daughter of Kodiac out of a Key Of Luck mare she is not bred to get this far at all but her shrewd connections obviously think otherwise and she is certainly an intriguing contender.
4 ALABASTER – An improving handicapper over staying trips is no big shock for trainer Sir Mark Prescott who has already won two races in a row at Kempton over a mile and three and then at Chelmsford when stepped up to a mile and three quarters with the son of Archipenko. Up another six pounds here he wears first time cheekpieces after wandering a little last time out and could well make a bold bid at landing his hat trick.
5 THE BLUES MASTER – The third and final Mark Johnston contender but possibly the one with the most to prove. Although he did win his maiden over a mile and a half on the Kempton all-weather in January and finished second to Global revival at Beverly that was a Class Five event and this is clearly a lot tougher. There were no obvious excuses last time when he finished a fifteen length plus seventh of eight at Chester in first time cheekpieces and he has to do a lot better here to even get involved.
6 TAXMEIFYOUCAN – Although a son of Beat Hollow, connections seem keen to keep him to a softer surface with his sole win on the Southwell equitrack when beating Alexander by fifteen lengths in a four horse field. His last run can be ignored after he was very badly hampered at York and then eased by jockey Jim Crowley but there is a world of difference between Southwell and Musselburgh and on this faster surface he may not be as effective.
7 SOMNAMBULIST – Still a maiden after five starts with a respectable third to What Wonders Weave at Hamilton last time out but belongs in a maiden and not here on all known form. Steps up considerably in trip from a mile and half a furlong to close to a mile and three quarters here which seems a bit of a stretch on breeding and others appeal more even though trainer Keith Dalgleish has had plenty of winners (seven) in the last fortnight.
8 CRAY – Another last time out winner this time when scoring by half a length in a Wetherby handicap the son of Rip Van Winkle stayed on gamely to get the better of Padrinho by half a length at the line over a mile and three quarters so at least his stamina is not in question. Trainer James Bethell said after that win that “Cray was running on well at Pontefract last time and always looked like he wanted further……”which backs up what he produced on the track, and off just four pounds higher here he could still go well in first time cheekpieces.
9 ALBERT’S BACK – Still a maiden after three races and hard to make much of a case for but then again, if Mick Easterby thinks he deserves his place in this line up there may be more to this than meets the eye. A son of Champs Elysees he is certainly bred to do better over this sort of trip than the mile he tried last time and he may yet outrun his price, yet on all known form there is no case to be made and he ought to finish a lot nearer last than first today.
10 LOOK MY WAY – One of the more in-form options available with a third a win and a second from three races this season for trainer Andrew Balding. All six of his career starts have been on all-weather tracks and he makes his turf debut this afternoon. On breeding (he is by Pour Moi out of a Sinndar mare) there is no reason to think the grass will be an issue, and off bottom weight he could yet be of interest if the market speaks in his favour.