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Musselburgh – Report 5th February 2023

Gordon Brown – Race Reporter

Gordon has a wealth of experience of racing through his background in the written and broadcast media. His current principle role is reporting and supporting the scene in Scotland on Racing TV and relaying the latest news with Scottish angles.

Afadil, trained by Paul Nicholls, was an impressive winner of the feature race on day two of the bet365 Scottish Cheltenham Trials weekend at Musselburgh.

After a massive drift out to 7-2, he stormed home under Harry Cobden in the £40,000 Scottish Triumph Hurdle to win going away by a length and a half from The Churchill Lad.

Charlie Davies, assistant to the winning trainer, said: “We think a lot of him and we were really, really pleased with that. It was just his second run over hurdles and he is still quite green so we hope he will be as good as we think he might be. He deserves to go to Cheltenham next month after this and he loved the better ground.”

The Scottish Champion Chase went to Danny McMenamin-ridden Pay The Piper, who slammed long-time leader Fidelio Vallis by four and a quarter lengths.

Ian Hamilton, husband of winning permit-trainer Ann, said: “That’s more like it as our horses have been wrong for a lot of the season. He was second at this meeting last year and this was more like it.”

Harriet Graham and Gary Rutherford teamed up to land the Pertemps Network Group Handicap Hurdle with Brandy McQueen, who was given a fine front-running ride by Ed Austin.

Graham said: “Stepping up in trip has been a big plus for him as he stays very well. He’s going to be a chaser but not probably until next year as he’s still only six.”

The final two races on the card went to Scottish-trained horses. Methodtothemadness took the bet365 Handicap Chase for Lucinda Russell while Daragh Bourke’s Coral Blue sprung a 22-1 upset in the concluding bet365 Handicap Hurdle.