HAS there ever been a more durable Flat horse than Yorkshire sprint star Borderlescott, who attempts to roll back the years at Musselburgh today.
Now 13 years old, and under the care of a new trainer after Robin Bastiman retired, this will be the 82nd start in the career of the gelding who was good enough to win back-to-back Grade One Nunthorpe sprints when at the peak of his powers.
And this is what Borderlescott loves doing – he took umbrage when retired a couple of years ago so he returned to training and ran eight times last year.
His campaign was book-ended by two narrow defeats at Musselburgh and it is testament to the horse’s longevity, and popularity, that today’s five-furlong dash – the Totepool Borderlescott Sprint Trophy – has been named in his honour. Not many horses get the chance to compete in their own race.
“He’s still young at heart and has been doing some nice pieces of work,” said Bastiman’s daughter Rebeeca, who now trains the horse at the family’s stables near Wetherby.
“We’ll run him here and see how he is, we won’t over-race him, that’s for sure. He was so unlucky to lose last year but at the same time it was overwhelming how well he actually ran.
“We’ll try and place him in the right races to give him the best chance of winning, though obviously he’s not very well in tomorrow and the ground will be a bit soft for him.
“Basically he’s running as it’s his favourite track, he always runs well there, and it’s a day out for him. I’d like to have run him in the 0-85 handicap instead but he’s still rated 87. Once he qualifies for those races I’m sure he’ll be competitive.”
One of the horses rated nearly 20lb higher than Borderlescott is Kevin Ryan’s Blaine.
Winner of York’s Gimcrack as a two-year-old, he bounced back to form last year winning a handicap at York and finishing third in the Ayr Gold Cup.
Owner Matt Morgan hopes the race is a springboard to some bigger targets in the first half of the season.
“We’ve got to start somewhere and I’d rather it was over six furlongs than five and we don’t want too much rain,” he said. “Ideally he wants six furlongs but this is a stepping stone, there’s a race for him at the Guineas meeting and then he’ll go for the Duke of York all being well.”
Morgan also revealed that his Cheltenham Festival winner Call The Cops, such an impressive winner of the Pertemps Final under Malton-born jockey Andrew Tinkler, will reappear at Aintree next week.
He now heads for the Injured Jockeys Fund Handicap Hurdle on the first day of the Grand National meeting and at the weights at least appears to have a good chance of pulling off the double last completed by Malcolm Jefferson’s stable stalwart Cape Tribulation in 2012.
It is also an opportunity for the aforementioned Tinkler to showcase his skills; his win aboard Call The Cops was just his second at the National Hunt Festival since Greenhope in 2006 and has helped to put him on the 20-winner mark for the current campaign.
“I don’t think it’s insurmountable,” said Morgan. “Tinks says he’s bouncing again now and we hope he can do what Malcolm Jefferson’s horse did the other year.”
Even though this is the second successive year where Flat racing has taken place on Good Friday, local interest will inevitably revolve around the annual Middleham Open Day where the star attractions will include Mister McGoldrick who provided Sue and Harvey Smith with their first Cheltenham Festival success in 2008. The 17-year-old was a 15-time winner in a 91-race career, winning many admirers for his bravery and determination.
Robert Beaumont, one of the organisers of the Middleham Open Day, said: “Mister McGoldrick has a special place in the hearts of all lovers of racing in Yorkshire and beyond.
“His combination of class and guts endeared him to so many and we are honoured to have him with us on Good Friday. We should also pay tribute to New Beginnings, a tremendous charity which ensures that the racehorses in its care have a fulfilled and happy life when they retire.
“Their ultimate aim is to produce horses that can easily move into new disciplines and be suitably and successfully rehomed. They look after every horse in their care for the rest of their natural life.”
As for the finale of the all-weather championships at Lingfield, Charlie Appleby’s Tryster will attempt to stretch his winning sequence to five under Dubai World Cup-winning jockey William Buick.
After making a rapid rise through the handicap ranks, the Shamardal gelding made an instant impact when stepped up to Group-race company when taking the Winter Derby over a mile and a quarter at Lingfield earlier this month.