The Paul Mulrennan column: Star ready to make amends for recent narrow defeat

By Paul Mulrennan
Fri 25 Sep 2020

The Racing TV ambassador pays tribute to the late, great Pat Smullen plus provides us with the inside track on his key rides at Musselburgh and Haydock this weekend.

I realise I'm by no means alone in still feeling the loss of Pat Smullen, whose sad death has hit racing hard. However, I have to add my own thoughts and condolences to his family.

Whenever I went in Ireland, I found myself in the same part of the weighing room as him, and I was always the better for having spent the day in his company. He was approachable, kind, professional and nothing changed him - he never let any of his success get to him. He was as humble a professional athlete as you could ever meet. We will all miss him.

It's been a busy week with plenty of rides, although I wouldn't have minded turning some of the seconds and thirds into winners.

One of those I just got beat on was Avior Star, who wandered about and got caught right on the line at Redcar on Wednesday. He is in again at Musselburgh on Sunday and I would fancy him to make amends this time - it was just a shade of greenness that got him beaten and he is a real trier.

Avior Star lost by a nose at Redcar earlier this week

Another one I'll give a mention to among my Musselburgh rides is Royal Context in the So Stobo So Safe Handicap. I liked the feel he gave me when he won two starts ago and I'd be willing to give him another chance after his latest York run is hotter contest than this.

On Saturday, I've four mounts to look forward to at Haydock Park. The weather forecast has reportedly changed and they might not get any further rain now, which is a shame for the prospects of Big Les in the Haydock Close Brothers Asset Management Handicap, as this horse is a real soft-ground lover. But there will clearly still be some ease in the ground, so I'd still be hopeful of a big run - he knows how to win races and he isn't badly treated on his best form.

Royal Context was successful at Haydock in July

Indianapolis keeps running well in big races and I dare say he'll give each-way backers another good run for their money in the following race, the Haydock Close Brothers Premium Finance Handicap. A lot of eyes will be on Goshen, of course, and he does look a very interesting horse for Gary Moore, but hopefully we can outrun our odds.

You can't put a line through Nicholas T, either. He isn't the easiest to predict, but Jim Goldie has had a couple of winners in the last few days and he is definitely capable - he wasn't beaten a long way in the John Smith's Cup off a 6lb higher mark a few weeks ago.

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