David Griffiths: believes Ornate is fast approaching top form

martin lynch

2.30 Musselburgh
Edinburgh Gin’s Scottish Sprint Cup Handicap | 5f | ITV4

This valuable sprint handicap promises to be fast and furious, with well-known speedsters such as El Astronaute and Caspian Prince in the line-up. Here’s what you need to know.

Ornate fits the bill

You often need a Group horse to win a valuable handicap like this and Ornate, runner-up to Brando in Newmarket’s Group 3 Abernant Stakes when trained by Robert Cowell last spring, now drops into handicap company for the first since since his three-year-old days.

The five-year-old, now trained by David Griffiths, ran better than his finishing position of fourth of five suggests behind the flying Harry Angel in the Group 2 Duke of York Stakes last time, and Griffiths said: “He’s taken a long time to come to himself this year, but he’s nearly there in his coat now.

Duke of York Stakes result and replay

“He worked phenomenally well the other day; it looked like the work of a Group horse.

“He’s down into a handicap for the first time in a while and I expect him to run really well.”

Mr Consistency in top form

El Astronaute, a model of consistency throughout his career, brings 2018 form figures of 2312 into this £100,000 cavalry charge.

That victory came in a fiercely contested 5f York handicap at the Dante meeting, when he had Major Jumbo (third), Line Of Reason (seventh), Copper Knight (12th) and Excessable (17th) behind.

The five-year-old now races off a career-high mark of 101, which is 3lb above that York-winning rating, but his stable is in great form and it would be no surprise if El Astronaute manages to raise his game once again.

Watch El Astronaute’s York win

Quinn, who is also represented by Soie D’Leau, said: “I’m pleased El Astronaute has got a draw near the fence. He’s very consistent and goes there in good form.

“So too does Soie D’Leau. It’s nice to have two runners in a race like this who both go there with definite chances.”

Currie and Jumbo a good combination

Nicola Currie has forged a good partnership with Major Jumbo, who boasts form figures of 13 with the apprentice on board.

The pair combined to beat Move In Time by a length and a quarter at Newmarket in April and then finished a close third to El Astronaute at York.

Major Jumbo still appears to be improving, and Adam Ryan, assistant to trainer Kevin Ryan, said: “He put up two cracking efforts in defeat at York. On the best of his form he’s got a definite chance.”

What they say

Paul Midgley, trainer of Orvar, Move In Time and Line Of Reason
The draw could have been kinder for all three, but they’re all in fantastic form. Orvar is a good horse. There is definitely a big one in him at some stage. Move In Time bolted up at Newmarket. He went up 7lb for that but must have a chance. Line Of Reason won the race last year, and ran well at York last time. He’ll get his ground. If any of them had a good draw I’d be fancying them more than I do, but it’s not impossible.

Tim Easterby, trainer of Copper Knight, Orion’s Bow and Excessable
Copper Knight is in good form. He’s been working nicely and the race should suit him. Orion’s Bow was a bit disappointing at York. I don’t really know why. He just flattened out in the closing stages. He’s potentially well handicapped and should have a good chance. Excessable was also disappointing at York, but you’ve got to take your chance for £100,000.

Iain Jardine, trainer of Mayleaf Shine
She’s well drawn [16], but ideally I’d prefer some juice in the ground for her. It might be a bit quick for her, but they do water well at Musselburgh, so we’ll take our chance. She’s a nice, improving filly, and very quick. She goes there fresh and well.

John Ryan, trainer of Merhoob
He performed really well there last week. The plan all along has been this race, but the draw [stall one] is no help – he’s almost in the middle of the golf course. He’s still quite well weighted and in very good form. I expect him to improve again for his last run.

Bryan Smart, trainer of Fendale
He’s down the bottom with no weight. He ran fantastically well first time out this season and must have a squeak. He’s in good form at home.

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