There is a bumper selection of races on offer from ITV Racing this weekend, so let’s kick off by looking forward to this afternoon’s action from Sandown.
Sandown Racing on Friday
An interesting handicap chase kicks us off today and Halo Des Obeaux just heads the market. He has only had two runs for Paul Nicholls since joining his stable in the summer, but the form of his first run seems to working out very well. He did fall last time when well beaten, so if he can avoid any mishaps and get a clear round in, he could be very well treated on handicap debut. Champagne Well won at Plumpton last month over hurdles, just holding on. He looks to be well treated and will no doubt be in there pitching at the end. I’m going to take a chance on the Henderson horse, Bothwell Bridge. He was last seen running in the Grade 1 Novice Hurdle and the Grand National meeting. That was over 3-miles and this step back in trip to 2-mile 4-furlong is sure to suit him better. Nice to see Nico De Boinville back in the saddle this weekend, after his unfortunate injury he suffered last week.
Selection – Bothwell Bridge – 4/1
Winner: Bothwell Bridge
This looks like a great chance for Brave Kingdom to continue his winning run. He joined the Paul Nicholls stable for this season and he was very impressive on his first start and he is open to more progress here today. His main danger will be Fair Frontieres, he bolted up last time out at Worcester winning by 41 lengths and he is sure to come on for that run. He will have to improve a lot to trouble the Nicholls horse, who I think will just win.
Selection – Brave Kingdom – 11/10
Desque De L’lsle for Venetia Williams won with a lot in hand last time out at Ffos Las and since then he has been raised 10lbs for that performance. Ned Fox takes off that 10lbs with his claim, so he actually looks quite well in. This race does look tougher than the Ffos Las race, so he will need to improve on that run. Early Du Lemo was second in this race last year and he is sure to go close again today, but I’m siding with the Twiston-Davies horse, One True King. Jordan Nailor takes the ride and he takes off a handy 3lbs. He also ran at Ffos Las last time out finishing second and I think he can go one better here today if he can repeat that run.
Selection – One True King – 9/2
Winner: One True King
We finish the day with a handicap hurdle and Pileon heads the market for Phillip Hobbs. He ran a decent race finishing fourth at Aintree last time out, but will need to back that up today and probably improve again to win this. Al Dancer ran in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham last time out and was well beaten, he doesn’t quite look the same horse as he was. Sam Thomas now trains him and he has decided to put him back over hurdles to hopefully try and get him back to his best form. He is 4 out of 5 over hurdles so if he can run anywhere near his best, he wins this today.
Selection – Al Dancer – 11/2
This looks a good opptunity for Boothill, who has shown a lot of promise in his very short career to date. Sam Twiston-Davies takes the ride today and I think he will be very hard to beat on chase debut. Adrimel is likely to be his biggest test as long as he manages to get round. He was pulled up on his last two starts over hurdles, but he did win a Grade 2 last January on heavy ground.
Selection – Boothill – Evens
Winner: Gladiateur Allen
This looks a good chance of our ambassador Aidan Coleman as he rides Gunsight Ridge for Olly Murphy. He was third last time out on chase debut and this longer trip is sure to suit and a big run is expected for a very inform yard. L’Homme Press does look a big danger on chase debut. He had two runs for Venetia Williams last season winning one of them at Chepstow. This will be a tough test from him today, but I’m sure he has been well schooled at home.
Selection – Gunsight Ridge – 2/1
Winner: L’homme Presse
We finish the day with a competitive handicap chase and Young Offender just about heads the market. He won impressively at Chepstow last time out, so is sure to go well here today. Poppa Poutine for the Twiston-Davies team ran a decent race on chase debut last time out and is open to further progress here today. The one who catches my eye is Django Django for Jonjo O’Neill. He looks on a decent mark, but he has just been badly out of form for a long time now. If he can bounce back to form, he has a great chance, I’m going to back him e/w and hope to see some improvement.
Selection – Django Django – 14/1 e/w
Winner: Gwencily Berbas
Racing from Aintree on Saturday
We start off with a Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle and the Irish raider White Pepper looks to have a great chance. She bolted up at Galway last time winning by 13 lengths eased down and I can’t see another horse in this race with the same kind of form as her. The one that could improve is Lady Pacifico who is unbeaten over hurdles, she had a few decent runs on the flat, but I’m not sure this soft ground is going to suit her.
Selection – White Pepper – 7/4
Winner: Sea Sessions
What a fantastic renewal of the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree and Protektorat heads the eight strong field. He ran a cracker to finish second in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham last month and that should have put him spot on for this race. The old boy Native River is just behind him in the market and with the stable back firing in the winners, an improved performance from this legend cannot be ruled out. Imperial Aura is back after his fall in the Betfair Chase when he was going well, but it would have been unlikely that he would have got anywhere near the runaway winner A Plus Tard. We also get to see the superstar Tiger Roll back in action and James Bowen has picked up the ride on him. It would be a surprise to see the Tiger go close in this race, as his targets are in the spring at the big Cheltenham and Aintree festivals, so he won’t be fully tuned up to face these class rivals here today.
I’m going to side with Native River and hope the improved stable form helps him bounce back to his best.
Selection – Native River – 9/4
We’re back over the National fences for the Becher Chase and the stunning grey, Snow Leopardess for our ambassador Aidan Coleman, has got to have a huge chance. I know Aidan was very happy after the run at Bangor last time out and he said as soon as he got off her that day the Becher Chase would be the ideal next step for her. Aidan has been to Lambourn this week to school her over the national fences and everything has gone to plan so far, hopefully they can repeat it this afternoon. Mac Tottie for the Bowen’s is also towards the head of the market and you can why, after that brilliant run here last month in the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase. They just got up in the nick of time to deny Senior Citzen and that is solid form. Mighty Thunder ran a decent race in the Charlie Hall Chase, and I suspect that was a run to get him fit. Kimberlite Candy struggled in the Grand National last April, but is back again for another crack over these famous fences. The horse who does like this race is Vieux Lion Rouge, who has won this twice in his career, he is a 12-year-old now so it makes it a lot tougher, but we know he will jump for fun and love his day out in the sun.
Selection – Snow Leopardess – 6/1
Winner: Snow Leopardess
The last race at Aintree is a handicap hurdle and the well-backed Tamar Bridge heads the market. He is another in-form horse for the Olly Murphy team that will take a lot of beating after his impressive win last time out at Wetherby, when he eased home to win by 13 lengths. Kateson looks back on a decent mark and he has the assistance of the top-class Nick Scholfield in the saddle and he could be the one to take a chance on in this race.
Selection – Kateson – 10/1
Winner: Tamar Bridge
Sandown on Saturday
We get to see the impressive Third Time Lucki once again as he looks to keep up that winning run. His last two performances at Cheltenham have been fantastic, and I’m already looking forward to seeing him run at the festival in March, but has a tough task on his hands today in this Grade 1. Edwardstone looked very classy last time out at Warwick for Alan King and he could definitely improve on that. We also have Minella Drama who has some great form to his name and he will be ridden by our ambassador Brian Hughes, who has been in great form in recent weeks. It’s interesting to see Paul Nicholls has put last weeks very impressive winner Il Ridoto in this race. He is only a four-year-old, so he gets weight off all of his rivals here today, and if he can win this, the sky is the limit for him.
Selection – Third Time Lucki – 9/2
It’s time for the feature race of the weekend, the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase. Willie Mullins has sent over one of his many superstars Chacun Pour Soi for the race. He was disappointing in the Champion Chase at the festival back in March, but he proved before that what a class horse he is. I think he will bounce back today and win this with ease, then all roads will lead to another crack at the Champion Chase next year. Fair play to Dan Skelton for having a go at Chacun Pour Soi with Nube Negra. He finished second in the Champion Chase just getting caught close home by Put The Kettle On, and he has already shown this season that it was no fluke by winning the Shloer Chase in great style.
Selection – Chacun Pour Soi – Evens
Strictlyadancer has just been in incredible form in recent weeks, winning three races on the bounce in very competitive handicaps. Jack Tudor gave him a peach of a ride last time out at Haydock and it’s been a brilliant training performance by an outstanding trainer in Christian Williams. I really hope they can make it four in a row today live on ITV. There are a lot of horses you could make a case for in this race and that includes Larry, for the Moore family. He ran a great race in the London Gold Cup at Ascot and a repeat of that run will surely put him firmly in the mix here today.
Selection – Strictlyadancer – 7/2
Winner: Highland Hunter
We finish with a Listed Race and Benson for Dr Richard Newland heads the market. The form over his last few runs has worked out extremely well, and his last run at Cheltenham in November should have put him spot on for this race. Hudson De Grugy loves it round Sandown, as he has won his last three races here and his recent form puts him firmly in the mix. The class horse in the race is Metier, he was well-beaten in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last March, but his form before that was brilliant, especially when he hacked up in the Tolworth Hurdle here last January. I think Benson is a huge danger, but I’m going to stick with the classy Metier and hope Sam Twiston-Davies can bring him home in front.
Selection – Metier – 9/2