Racing Tips: Graham Cunningham on Saturday at Musselburgh
Musselburgh is a fast track
"I suspect Koup de Kanon has the tools to trade short and run a blinder on a track which ought to suit him very well indeed."
Who says it's grim up north? Newbury's star studded Betfair Hurdle card has fallen to the weather, but Musselburgh fills the void for jumps fans with a rearranged card featuring plenty of smart horses. Racing UK analyst Graham Cunningham feels it could be a good day for Donald McCain and the Timeform Betfair Racing Club.
Hats off to Musselbugh for resurrecting a fine jumps card this weekend and, if past evidence is any guide, there will be some fiery exchanges for in running players.
Make no mistake, this is a fast track and trainers responsible for high cruisers are out in force this weekend. Any number of options are available in some very strong handicaps, but the horses who interest me most are as follows:
Heading the list is Donald McCain's Koup de Kanon in the featured Scottish County Hurdle at 15:45. Recent course winners Palawi and Dontpaytheferryman look sure to serve up a solid gallop here, but I'll be surprised if the holdup horses don't have a major say when it matters and Koup de Kanon fills the bill based on an easy Catterick win and an eye-catching Cheltenham fifth in a hot handicap which saw him catch the eye travelling powerfully just behind the lead in a truly-run race.
I suspect Koup de Kanon will challenge later this time. And I suspect he has the tools to trade short and run a blinder on a track which ought to suit him very well indeed.
It will be fascinating to see how the Betfair market shapes up for the Scottish Triumph Hurdle at 14:05. Logic dictates that Creekside will corner a sizeable chunk of the trade based on his useful Flat form and a decisive Catterick win on his hurdling debut, but I got the impression that John Ferguson's gelding had to be coaxed along to assert that day and there might just be a chink in his armour if things get tight from two out.
Kie looks the most likely pacesetter here and should go well back on the scene of his latest success, but Uncle Bryn looks a likely lad at a sporting price. Granted, John Quinn's gelding was nothing flash on the Flat and Creekside swept by him on the run-in at Catterick.
However, Uncle Bryn has a 5lb pull for the two lengths he was beaten that day and the potential added bonus of Dean Pratt's 7lb claim. He jumps well and tries hard and those qualities allied to his light weight give him clear back to layotential.
One more chaser at Musselburgh and another at Leopardstown complete the list of back to lay candidates for this weekend.
Lightening Rod is first up in Musselburgh's 15:10. This promises to be explosive on the front end with Carrietau heading lengthy a list of proven front runners.
Lightening Rod is unlikely to have any part of the early action, but he shaped a great deal better than the bare result suggests when chasing home star novice Sprinter Sacre at Donny and it's easy to see him coming through powerfully in the straight to launch a very dangerous challenge indeed.
And, last but not least, we have China Rock in Sunday's Hennessy Gold Cup at 15:45. A series of withdrawals give this a very winnable look by Grade 1 standards and it's hard to understand why so few British trainers seem keen to have a crack.
Quel Esprit is trading short to make the most of the opening which presents itself, but China Rock is an under rated horse in my view. He caught the eye travelling very strongly indeed in deep ground for a long way when fourth in this race last year and impressed again when rolling with the mighty Kauto Star and Long Run for a long way at Cheltenham.
Hand on heart, it's hard to be sure that China Rock is in prime form again after an opening spin over hurdles before Christmas. However, I'm sure he's good enough to look a danger to all on the home turn if he is on song. And with that in mind backing him at 6 and bigger with a view to laying off at [3.0] looks a very sensible call.
Back Koup de Kanon in Musselburgh's 15:45 and lay off at [3.5] in running
Back Uncle Bryn in Musselburgh's 14:05 and lay off at [4.0] in running
Back Lightening Rod in Musselburgh's 15:10 and lay off at [2.0] in running
Back China Rock in Leopardstown's 15:45 and lay off at [3.0] in running
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