Malcolm Jefferson, who has had mixed fortunes over the festive period, can make his long journey to Musselburgh today well worthwhile by saddling a winner.
The Norton trainer has hit the target several times lately, with the classy Urban Hymn, Secrete Stream, The Panama Kid and Retrieve The Stick all figuring on the scoreboard.
But Jefferson had to settle for placed efforts from three of his best horses, Cape Tribulation, King Of The Wolds and Oscar Rock and also had to suffer the heartbreak of losing handicap chaser Beamazed, who was fatally injured at Haydock earlier this week.
Today, Coozan George is Jefferson’s Musselburgh hope.
The gelding showed promise when fifth on his debut on this course in November when he looked pretty green and raw. That outing will not have been wasted on him and he looks the sort of horse who will progress as he gains further experience.
Coozan George runs this afternoon in the Read Aidan Coleman Every Friday racinguk.com National Hunt Flat Race.
It would be no surprise to see him score under Brian Hughes and is awarded the nap vote.
Hughes will also be aboard Jet Master in the 32Red Novices’ Chase.
A frustrating horse, who is often his own worst enemy by being too headstrong, Jet Master possesses a decent level of ability as he showed at Kelso two outings ago when narrowly denied victory.
He is capable of winning this three-runner contest, provided he proves amenable.
Phil Kirby can clinch the 32Red Casino Handicap Hurdle with Pass Muster.
Third at Exeter last month, Pass Muster had previously won over this course and distance. Adam Nichol gets on well with him and his 5lb claim comes in handy in this tight handicap.
The featured Kilmany Cup Chase has attracted only a small field but is a tricky race to solve. Isla Pearl Fisher showed little on his comeback at Carlisle, but with that race under his belt, Nick Alexander’s gelding may be able to make a bold bid to add to his brace of previous course wins.
Tim Walford’s King Of Strings ran well to finish second to Tough Trade at Kelso last month. He may not have to improve much to go one better in the Lauderdale Pony Club Maiden Hurdle.
At Southwell, local trainer Michael Appleby has good prospects of dominating the card.
Appleby has had his horses in excellent form throughout the last couple of months and he holds strong claims with Bonnie Fairy, No Win No Fee, Bitaphon and Honoured, all of whom will be partnered by his regular jockey Andrew Mullen.
Bonnie Fairy (12.30) and No Win No Fee (1.00) were both winners on this course last month and look capable of being competitive once again off their revised handicap marks.
Bitaphon (1.30) has gained three of his four career wins at this venue and has been running well in defeat since his latest success, while Honoured (2.30) failed by only a neck to complete a Southwell hat-trick just before Christmas.
Musselburgh today 12.40 King Of Strings, 1.10 Coax, 1.40 Pass Muster, 2.10 Jet Master, 2.40 Hartforth, 3.10 Isla Pearl Fisher, 3.40 Coozan George (NAP).
Southwell today 12.30 Bonnie Fairy, 1.00 No Win No Fee, 1.30 Bitaphon, 2.00 Primary Route, 2.30 Honoured, 3.00 My Manekineko, 3.30 Red Shadow.
Today’s other meeting: Wolverhampton.
Tomorrow’s meetings: Sandown, Wincanton, Newcastle and Lingfield.