New Year’s Eve has to be the one in Hogmaneigh Hurdle at Musselburgh
The Grand National winning team of Sue Smith and Ryan Mania look to have a winning chance in the 1.55 at Musselburgh on Wednesday with Mr Moonshine. The ten-year-old was pulled up at Aintree last season behind stable companion Aurora’s Encore but is in better form at present.
The ten-year-old returned to Liverpool for the Becher Chase and finished a very creditable third to Chance Du Roy. He was outpaced between the last two fences before running on stoutly at the finish.
Quito Du Tresor represents Scottish trainer Lucinda Russell and is another with a leading chance. He won well here in November before finishing third on a return visit behind Claragh Native.
Kealigolane is also a course winner having won well on his most recent start. That was a big improvement on the grey’s previous couple of outings and he could still be on the upgrade.
The highlight of the Musselburgh card is the Hogmaneigh Handicap Hurdle at 2.10. Ifandbutwhynot is certain to have his supporters after a game win at Newbury last time out.
David O’Meara’s seven-year-old was well backed in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham but failed to recover after being hampered in the early stages. He put that run well behind him when making all to hold off Chatterbox and Chris Pea Green.
The second and third failed to make much impression in the Ladbroke Hurdle next time but the winner could take some pegging back in this grade. Brian Ellison’s Ultimate could be interesting now that he drops back to hurdles from chasing.
He was a winner on the flat at Catterick over a mile and a half in October so still has plenty of speed. Any market move for him should be noted.
The dangers lurk at the foot of the handicap with New Year’s Eve standing out after bolting up in a novice hurdle. Admittedly he only faced one rival that day but Denis O’Regan had a hard time pulling him up and he was smart enough to chase home Champagne Fever in the 2012 festival bumper.
Hat-trick seeking Zaplamation is another worthy of consideration in a competitive race.