Musselburgh preview: Bayan up for Balmoral Cup (14:25)
Trained by Gordon Elliot, this gelding has developed into a very useful sort over hurdles, winning five of his dozen starts.
The last of those successes came in an ultra-competitive class 1 handicap hurdle at Ascot, and earned the six-year-old an official rating of 152.
That suggests Bayan is potentially thrown-in in this off a flat rating of just 87, as the general rule is that horses are 45lbs better over jumps compared to their turf rating.
The son of Danehill Dancer could potentially be more than a stone ahead of the assessor, and he was impressive when last seen on the flat and winning a handicap at Leopardstown over today’s distance.
Bayan came with a steady run from the rear to lead inside the final furlong, winning by 1 1/2 lengths from Stockton Wings, and was value for more than this margin of victory suggests.
He is now able to race in this off just 7lb higher and, given his upwardly mobile profile over hurdles, that makes Bayan look a potential handicap blot.
Aramist and Mistiroc look the pair most likely to give Bayan plenty to think about.
The former is trained by Jim Goldie, and has a progressive profile last season when he won twice.
Four-year-old Aramist showed a good attitude in the last of those when digging deep to beat Enobled by a short-head at Haydock, and arguably put up a career-best performance when last seen in action finishing sixth of 24 to Fraquhar in a very competitive affair at Newmarket off a mark of 90.
Mistiroc, meanwhile, is now able to race in this off 1lb lower, and that makes the son of Rocamadour a big player given that he remains unexposed after just five starts and open to further improvement,
Aramist is a tough sort trained by Alan Swinbank, who won three times last year and signed off the season with a solid second of 23 to Open Eagle in the valuable November Handicap at Doncaster.
Although no match for the runaway 12-length winner, Aramist stuck to the task well and the first three home pulled seven clear of the field.
That represents solid form in the context of this context and, off an unchanged rating of 90, Aramist looks sure to go well.