This week’s blog from Scottish Racing looks at the @bet365 Scottish Cheltenham Trials weekend at @musselburghracecourse on 6th & 7th Feb.
Horses and jockeys alike have used the bet365 Scottish Cheltenham Trials as the springboard to stardom and a perfect example is the dream team of Bryony Frost and Frodon.
Sam Twiston-Davies was on board Frodon when the gelding stormed to a nine-length success in the 2017 Scottish Future Champions Novices’ Chase, but Bryony did the steering for the 2019 Ryanair Chase when she made history by becoming the first woman to land a Grade 1 race over fences at the Cheltenham Festival.
It was at the 2015 Scottish Cheltenham Trials that Miss Frost, the 25-year-old daughter of Grand National-winning jockey Jimmy Frost, properly arrived on the scene when gaining her first success under Rules.
Little did we know when she landed that year’s Scottish Foxhunter Chase on impressive scorer Current Event that she would be destined for much greater things.
Including a memorable King George VI triumph on Boxing Day, the partnership has now won eight times together and in recognition of those exploits the opening event was revamped as the ‘Frodon Novices’ Chase’ last year.
Others to emerge from the East Lothian venue’s flagship jumps fixture are San Benedeto, who carries the same colours as Frodon and is also trained by Paul Nicholls. He scooped the 2017 Scottish Champion Chase before soaring to Grade 1 glory a few weeks later at Aintree’s Grand National festival.
We Have A Dream (2018 Scottish Triumph Hurdle) and Diego Du Charmil (2017 Scottish County Hurdle) also went on to grab Grade 1’s at the home of the world’s greatest steeplechase the same year.
At £30,000, the Edinburgh National is the most valuable race up for grabs and, at nearly 4m 1f, the longest staged at Musselburgh (and in Scotland!) all season.
This year’s two-day extravaganza, staged on February 6th & 7th, carries over £200,000 in prize money and the word is that some of national hunt racing’s biggest names will be again represented.
Despite the counter-attraction of Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival, a high-profile list is headed by Nicky Henderson who has always been a great supporter of what Musselburgh has to offer.
Musselburgh general manager Bill Farnsworth, the man whose vision has developed the meeting from its low-key conception in 2006, said: “Scottish Cheltenham Trials weekend is well established as a proving ground for trainers who have targeted the spring festivals at Cheltenham and Aintree and the quality is there for all to see. Every time we seem to produce horses who go on to perform well at those meetings and, from last year, we tweaked things a little so that most of the chases are on the Saturday with Sunday focussing more on the quality hurdle races for novices.”
The ITV cameras will be covering two races on the Saturday and four on the Sunday and both cards will be run behind-closed-doors adhering to strict Covid-19 safety protocols.
It’s fair to say that jumping by the banks of the Firth of Forth has come on by leaps and bounds since the chasing and hurdling circuits opened in January 1987.