MUSSELBURGH’S rescheduled Cheltenham Trials card stages some much-missed turf action today – with Ingleby Spirit tipped to land the John Smith’s Scottish County Hurdle.
Twice a winner over course and distance, he has destroyed novice company on his last two starts and looks to be on a workable mark for this handicap bow.
Trained at Malton by Richard Fahey, the five-year-old was pretty decent on the Flat, winning three times and ending last season with a rating of 87.
After a sighter first time over hurdles at Carlisle, he shaped with promise when second at Ludlow. However Ingleby Spirit, the mount of Brian Hughes, obviously likes the sharp nature of this track as he has won his last two starts at the Scottish venue in the style of a rapidly-improving hurdler.
His 16-length verdict over the highly-touted Absinthe last time gives him huge claims in this, despite the step out of novice company.
The inclement weather also means that this is a Cheltenham prep race for Ferdy Murphy’s Divers who was a Festival winner last season over fences before finishing a creditable third in the Paddy Power Gold Cup.
Another runner from Murphy’s West Witton yard is De Boitron. He looks well handicapped in the John Smith’s Scottish Champion Chase. Cheltenham’s Grand Annual Chase remains the horse’s objective – he was a fast finishing fourth last year.
Hedgehunter, the 2005 Grand National winner, will open the new Brown Shipley Owners & Trainers’ Pavilion at Haydock next Saturday when the Merseyside track is due to stage the £75,000 Betfred Grand National Trial.
The 16-year-old horse, ridden to victory by Ruby Walsh, was retired four years ago after running in the National for five consecutive seasons from 2004.