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Robbie Wilders has picks for Naas and Cheltenham
  1. Horse Racing

Horse Racing: Robbie Wilders' Sunday Musselburgh Tips

It’s New Year’s Day and Musselburgh hosts a compelling card to open 2023 with Robbie Wilders from the Racing Post providing three selections.

(Article originally published 31/12/2022)

1.35 Musselburgh

Cooper’s Cross @ 9/2

1pt win

2.45 Musselburgh

Homme Public @ 9/2

1pt win

3.20 Musselburgh

Navajo Pass @ SP

1pt win

Super Cooper 

I was initially drawn to Gold Des Bois in the 2m4½f handicap chase (1.35) due to the strength of his last time out Cheltenham fourth. 

The first and second have since easily followed up along with one who was pulled up that day.  

He is well treated off 2lb lower, but surely doesn’t have a prayer of getting home over this trip on soft ground and preference is for Cooper’s Cross.  

This lightly raced eight-year-old has missed engagements over the last couple of seasons due to the ground either being too quick or too testing, but conditions should be just right here and the fact he stays a little further than this trip is a plus. 

Cooper’s Cross has recorded career-best performances on Racing Post Ratings on each of his two starts this campaign and his recent third to the smart Brave Seasca at Aintree looks smart form. 

My selection would have got much closer had he not made a bad mistake at the third-last and he should have plenty more to offer in a slightly weaker contest.  

Public can send connections home happy 

Al Zaraqaan heads the early betting for the 1m7½f handicap hurdle (2.45) but I’ll be taking him on. This smart Flat performer has been well placed by trainer Archie Watson to complete a four-timer over hurdles, but this is by some way the toughest race he has contested in this sphere.  

He moves from a Class 4 to a much stronger Class 2 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him usurped as favourite by Homme Public

Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero have made a bright start to their training partnership and are one from one at this course. 

Homme Public can maintain the 100 per cent record if taking to first-time cheekpieces. This progressive six-year-old has been a revelation since dropping back to two miles and ran a nice race at Sandown when finishing third to Mares’ Hurdle fancy Love Envoi last time. 

There are no Grade 1 opponents in this field and Homme Public can make the journey north pay for his connections.

Navajo tough to pass 

The concluding 2m4f handicap hurdle (3.20) is Navajo Pass’s for the taking if he puts his best foot forward and he looks well worth chancing for prolific pair Donald McCain and Brian Hughes. 

Navajo Pass landed this prize in great style two seasons ago off a 17lb higher mark, but the fact he has plummeted so much in the ratings since implies it hasn’t been plain sailing. 

The seven-year-old was in a rich vein of form two years ago and followed up victory in this by beating dual Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’Air in the Grade 2 Unibet Hurdle at Haydock. 

Navajo Pass is without a success over jumps since but did prove he retains plenty of ability with a runaway success on the Flat two starts back in October.  

My selection is now rated 90 in that discipline and 125 over hurdles, and it is worth drawing a line through his hurdles flop at Carlisle 16 days later as the run probably came quick enough after a big performance on heavy ground.  

Expected to be freshened up by the 63-day break, Navajo Pass can return to winning ways on the soft ground he relishes. 

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