Germany could be calling the shots once more in Scotland
Totepool.com "Auld Reekie" Handicap Chase | 2m4f | ITV/RUK
Having successful ventured to Doncaster with Germany Calling in November, Charlie Longsdon travels further up the A1 on New Year's Day.
His Oxfordshire yard is 337 miles from Musselburgh, but the trainer has already had a winner here this season.
And he is far from upset with an 8lb rise in the weights for Germany Calling, who scored by 15 lengths on Town Moor and is reunited with 3lb claimer Graham Watters, who was on board that day.
Pain Au Chocolat and the first-time-blinkered Cold March have also travelled more than 300 miles for a race that has been won by a northern horse every year since the first running was landed by Staffordshire raider Fiendish Flame in 2012.
The Lucinda Russell-trained Reaping The Reward won it for Scotland two years ago, but the only runner trained north of the border this time is Ash Park (Stuart Coltherd).
No joy for market leaders
No favourite has ever won this race, although no winner has started bigger than 17-2 shot Indian Temple last year.
Runswick Royal, described as "the best I've ever had" by owner Ian Hamilton when winning a Listed chase at Kelso in 2015, returns from a 574-day break after straining a tendon.
What they say
Charlie Longsdon, trainer of Germany Calling
He won very easily at Doncaster and he could have gone up more in the weights, but the handicapper has been realistic. He's in the big boys' league now and this is a tougher race, but the better ground will suit him.
Ian Hamilton, owner of Runswick Royal
He seems as good as ever at home and he's as fit as we can get him, but the handicapper hasn't been very kind as he's dropped him only 4lb.
Dan Skelton, trainer of Pain Au Chocolat
He ran well last time, facing an impossible task when giving weight to Cloudy Dream. The new trip will suit him and the ground will be fine.
Brian Ellison, trainer of Viens Chercher
He's in good form, he's run well on both starts this season and this race should suit him.
Stuart Coltherd, trainer of Ash Park
He seems well at home and has been running consistently well. He has a nice weight, with Sam [Coltherd] taking 5lb off, and the ground will suit.
Rebecca Menzies, trainer of Royal Macnab
He's in really good form and he's won three times over the course and distance, but this looks a stiffer task than when he finished second in the race last year.