Sandown Park hosts the first British Grade 1 race of the New Year on Saturday afternoon when the Esher venue plays host to the Tolworth Hurdle.
Can the promising Metier remain unbeaten over jumps or will something burst his bubble?
Watch all the Sandown action (12.05pm-3.35pm) via live streaming when logged into MansionBet, as well as every race from the UK and Ireland. Our tipster has selection for each of the seven Sandown contests.
12.05 – Unibet Extra Place Races Every Day Juvenile Hurdle (2m)
After a more than promising start when runner-up over C&D (heavy) four weeks ago, the Gary Moor-trained French import HUDSON DE GRUGY finds a suitable opportunity to go one place better. He should improve from that run and looks very much the one they all have to beat. Hystery Bere was an easy winner over hurdles in July before he left France in the summer and could emerge as the main danger.
Selection: Hudson De Grugy @
12.40 – Unibet ‘You’re On’ Mares’ Hurdle (Listed, 2m4f)
There’s no doubting that Stormy Ireland has the proven ability to win this but she’s 0-3 since joining Paul Nicholls from Willie Mullins in the summer. She was twice second at short odds over fences and found the International Hurdle at Cheltenham last month to tall an order. This class-drop gives her claims but maybe WHITEHOTCHILLIFILI can prevail on her second attempt in Listed company. She was somewhat disappointing on seasonal return over 2m at Wetherby but her C&D second in a handicap last month was more like it and she’s worth another tilt in this grade.
Selection: Whitehotchillifili @
1.15 – Read Nicky Henderson’s Unibet Blog Handicap Chase (2m4f)
DESTINEE ROYALE made short work of her rivals on chasing bow at Market Rasen back in the spring, clearly taking to fences like a natural. The mare has scope for plenty better and has gone well fresh in the past so is likely to put her best foot forward now for Venetia Williams and Charlie Deutsch. Top-weight Evander justified market support when getting on the board at the third time of asking over fences at Doncaster three weeks ago and may improve again.
Selection: Destinee Royale @
1.50 – Unibet 3 Uniboosts A Day Handicap Chase (2m)
After a very promising second at Ascot on his comeback in October, IBLEO was rather unfortunate to bump into the much-improved Sky Pirate last month at Cheltenham when again having to settle for second prize. He was clear of the remainder and, inched up another 3lb, looks capable of scoring in what could be a quick double-up for his trainer/jockey team. Moonlighter was second in the Haldon Gold Cup on penultimate start and is a big player on that effort, though he must put a fall at Newbury since behind him.
Selection: Ibleo @
2.25 – Unibet Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1, 2m)
The first British Grade 1 of the new calendar year and a chance for METIER to continue his rapid progress in this sphere since joining Harry Fry. He was rated 90 on the Flat in Ireland and has quickly gone 2-2 over timber. He had plenty in hand over the re-opposing Tile Tapper at Ascot and having proven himself on testing ground there are no worries for the rise in class.
The mare Galice Macalo is much-respected having backed up straightforward wins at Warwick and Stratford in the autumn with a pleasing second in a Listed handicap hurdle over C&D on heavy ground last month. Shakem Up’arry has the form to get involved too, with the drop in distance likely in his favour.
Selection: Metier @
3.00 – Unibet Veterans’ Handicap Chase (3m)
Lots of chances in a wide open veterans’ contest. Last year’s winner Jepeck needs the new array of headgear to have a positive effect while Crosspark deserves a change of luck after a hat-trick of seconds lately, including over further here last month in the London National. POTTERS LEGEND has come into form after wind surgery, scoring on his comeback at Warwick and then a decent second in a Grade 3 Cheltenham handicap last month against younger rivals. He goes well in the mud and will relish it if this becomes a through stamina test.
Selection: Potters Legend @
3.35 – Unibet Casino Deposit 10 Get 40 Handicap Hurdle (2m)
Friend Or Foe was fancied in the betting and duly improved considerably on his previous form to score readily at Wincanton 18 days ago. The handicapper took a dim view and Paul Nicholls’ charge is now 13lb higher. Monsieur Lecoq won this race in good style two years ago but remains on a tough mark ensuring The Pink’n is a more likely contender.
Perhaps first-time cheekpieces can assist the front-running TOTTERDOWN to get back on track. He’s not had much racing since winning over C&D (heavy) in November 2019 (four starts) and he faded in a stronger contest here last time, but he assessor has dropped him 4lb for that and, if the new tack works, he’s got claims of seeing it out.
Selection: Totterdown @
*All odds correct at time of writing