Ellison targeting Sky Bet Supreme Scottish Trial

The Road to Cheltenham moves north of the border on Sunday, February 1, when Musselburgh stages the Scottish Cheltenham Trials Day.

Opening the card at Musselburgh is the £20,000 Sky Bet Supreme Scottish Trial Novices’ Hurdle (1.00pm) over two miles, which is the penultimate contest in the series of trials sponsored by Sky Bet ahead of the Grade One Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday, March 10.

Heading the market at 3/1 with Sky Bet is El Namoose (John Ferguson), successful in three of his four starts in bumpers and a comfortable four-length winner on his hurdling debut at Huntingdon on November 11.

Malton handler Brian Ellison has two entries headed by The Grey Taylor, who is a 5/1 shot with Sky Bet. The six-year-old was formerly trained by Steve Gollings and made a winning debut over hurdles in a two-mile contest at Wetherby on November 1.

The Grey Taylor was subsequently moved to Ellison and doubled up under a penalty over the same course and distance on November 26. He surrendered his unbeaten record at Wetherby on December 27, when beaten a short-head by smart Flat recruit A Boy Named Suzi.

Ellison reported: “The Grey Taylor is flying and definitely runs on Sunday.

“I was pleased with his first two starts. He won really well the first day and last time he was trying to give a lot of weight away to a good Flat horse. I know the winner has been beaten since but he probably did not stay.

“I think The Grey Taylor has come on again and better ground will improve him as well. Musselburgh won’t be a problem to him – he has plenty of pace – and we have had this race in mind for a while.

“We have given him an entry in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.”

Ellison is also planning to run Amaze (25/1), who will be having his first start over hurdles since finishing sixth in a Perth juvenile hurdle in September, 2011. The seven-year-old was last seen out when second in a 10-furlong handicap at Newcastle in June.

Ellison added: “Amaze will run as well. He basically doesn’t like the starting stalls, so I thought we would give him a shot over hurdles.”

There are three entries from Nicky Henderson, including the 4/1 second favourite Cardinal Walter. A smart middle-distance handicapper on the Flat, Cardinal Walter scored by seven lengths on his hurdling debut at Doncaster on December 12. The master of Seven Barrows could also run Sweet Deal (7/1), who won on his first two starts over hurdles but struggled in handicap company last time out and the J P McManus-owned Saint Charles (8/1), who got off the mark at Doncaster on January 9.

Some Plan (Tom George, 7/1) only found the smart Seedling a length and a half too strong at Cheltenham in December, while the two entries from Donald McCain – Roserrow (8/1) and Starchitect (10/1) – are both dual already winners this season. Starchitect chased home the high-class Peace And Co in a Grade Two contest at Doncaster in December, while Roserrow was a course and distance winner last time out on November 6.

The one chance of the prize staying in Scotland could come from Stylish Chap (Lucinda Russell, 16/1), who scored over the course and distance last time out on January 5.

Completing the entries are Restraint Of Trade (Jennie Candlish, 25/1), formerly decent on the Flat for Godolphin and successful over hurdles at Bangor in December, and the Irish-trained Ashjar (Colin McBratney, 40/1) who won at Tramore back in May but has been largely disappointing since.

Sky Bet Supreme Scottish Trial Novices’ Hurdle, Sky Bet odds: 3/1 El Namoose; 4/1 Cardinal Walter; 5/1 Some Plan, The Grey Taylor; 7/1 Sweet Deal; 8/1 Roserrow, Saint Charles; 10/1 Starchitect; 16/1 Stylish Chap; 25/1 Amaze, Restraint Of Trade, 40/1 Ashjar

Michael Shinners, Racing PR Manager for Sky Bet, said: “We are delighted to extend the Road to the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle to Musselburgh and have been rewarded with what looks like an excellent race.

“As the prices suggest, it looks very competitive at this stage, with a number of the horses entered looking open to any amount of improvement.”

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