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Lancashire Telegraph Racing Column
11:25am Sunday 2nd February 2014 in Sport
Broughton shaped with abundant promise on his jumps debut and is an intriguing contender for the John Smith's Scottish Triumph Hurdle Trial at Musselburgh on Sunday.
The four-year-old was a typically tenacious middle-distance runner for Mark Johnston on the level in 2013, with victories at Ripon, Chester and Glorious Goodwood supplemented by some solid efforts in defeat.
He was thrown in at the deep end on his first start for John Ferguson, tackling the Grade Two Summit Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster, but it almost paid off.
Broughton jumped fluently before eventually going down by a head to the more experienced Fox Norton, pulling clear of one-time Triumph Hurdle favourite Royal Irish Hussar.
It is no surprise Ferguson has given his youngster a Triumph entry and he will have to be winning in Edinburgh if he is to head to Cheltenham with realistic claims.
Strongpoint has already proven his liking for the track on a couple of occasions and holds strong claims in the John Smith's Scottish County Hurdle.
The 10-year-old picked up a couple of point-to-points shortly after joining talented Irish trainer Stuart Crawford and it clearly did his confidence the world of good, as he has appeared a reformed character since running back under Rules.
Three consecutive runner-up finishes at Perth last summer suggested a return to winning ways was not far away and while he was unable to get competitive on his return at Fairyhouse in November, he absolutely bolted up off a mark of 120 at Musselburgh in early December.
A 10lb higher mark was not enough to stop him slamming a good field on his return on New Year's Day and a hat-trick could be in the offing, with jockey Peter Buchanan evidently clear of getting a good tune out of the veteran.
Offbeat Safaris has a good chance of ending a maddening sequence of results in the Rasher Frith Handicap at Kempton.
The Ron Harris-trained six-year-old has only won once in 28 tries, but he served notice his time may be near at Southwell on his most recent visit to the racecourse.
Despite having badly missed the break in a relatively tight seven-furlong handicap, Offbeat Safaris found a second wind from a wide flank to take second place behind Heidi's Delight.
Harris' inmate was well backed that day, so the presumption must be he is also showing plenty at home this winter.
Connections of the gelded son of Le Vie Dei Colori will be well satisfied the handicapper chose to leave him alone following that effort, while this step back up a to a mile looks a decent move given his nice, yet ultimately fruitless, run of form in the summer.
Song Light remains feasibly treated for the Kempton Park Chase Day 22.02.14 Handicap.
David Elsworth's representative had floundered in two previous tries on the all-weather but notably improved for a rise in trip.
The four-year-old gelding was evidently not fancied over course and distance a week and a half ago, but belied odds of 25/1 with a staying-on third behind Java Rose and Poitin.
Song Light renews rivalries with that duo in this race, but he is far better treated on this occasion and may also benefit from more forceful tactics.
Keep close tabs on Muhdiq when he competes in the Dine In The Panoramic Restaurant Handicap over five furlongs.
Mike Murphy's five-year-old should be a lot fitter for an encouraging blow-out in a six-furlong handicap at Wolverhampton when he only went down by a length and a quarter - his first outing since October.
The form looks strong, too, as the winner that day, Lexi's Hero, has since dotted up at Lingfield.
Mappin Time, who was third, has also hit the target at Southwell.
Muhdiq is just 2lb higher than when he was last victorious on the all-weather in November 2012 and will be unfazed by the ascent to five furlongs.
The Boylesports Free Wifi Coming To Our Shops Tied Cottage Chase takes centre stage on a strong card at Punchestown, with the Willie Mullins-trained Arvika Ligeonniere strongly fancied to get his season back on track.
The nine-year-old suffered a short-priced reverse when only third in the Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown's Christmas Festival, but was not completely disgraced behind Benefficient and Hidden Cyclone.
There is no doubt Arvika Ligeonniere is a different proposition going the other way around as he is four from four at Punchestown and has never been beaten going right-handed over fences, picking up four Grade Ones along the way.
He will be too good for these opponents if he brings his A-game to the table.
KEMPTON: 1.50 Muhdiq, 2.20 Divine Rule, 2.50 Offbeat Safaris, 3.20 Garraun, 3.50 My Sweet Lord, 4.20 Volito, 4.50 Song Light, 5.50 Bajan Bear.
MUSSELBURGH: 1.00 Arctic Court, 1.30 Racing Pulse, 2.00 Stormin Exit, 2.30 BROUGHTON (NAP), 3.00 Ericht, 3.30 Strongpoint, 4.00 Themilanhorse, 4.30 Los Nadis.
PUNCHESTOWN: 1.40 Chancol, 2.10 Wicklow Brave, 2.40 Inis Meain, 3.10 Arvika Ligeonniere, 3.40 Love Rory, 4.10 Jupitor, 4.40 Bosman Rule.
DOUBLE: Broughton and Offbeat Safaris.
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