What are the best bets at Sandown on Saturday?
There are four Sandown races being shown live on Channel 4 and our resident tipster has run the rule over them all.
1.50: 32Red Casino Handicap Chase, 1m7f119yds
A strong handicap with three last-time-out winners in the field, while the remaining six runners have something to recommend them. Grey Gold was a gutsy winner at the Newbury Hennessy meeting and this course and distance winner should go well again despite being hit with a 6lb rise, which leaves him with top weight to carry. Pearls Legend and Arthur’s Oak also need respecting despite being hit with rises – the latter has gone up a whopping 15lb for his Haydock success – but the vote goes to northern raider JUST CAMERON. He was most progressive in the latter half of last season, winning four times under today’s pilot Joe Colliver, and was far from disgraced at the Punchestown Festival in April when finishing runner-up to Un De Sceaux. He was perhaps flattered to run that class horse to three lengths, but even so it was a cracking effort and there may be better to come from this lightly-raced sort, with trip and ground ideal.
2.25: 32Red Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1), 1m7f216yds
Just the five runners will go to post for this Grade 1 but it’s an interesting renewal nonetheless. The trainers of the four British horses taking part must have been disappointed to see Willie Mullins declare Yorkhill and the race very much revolves around that horse. The six-year-old kept a lower profile than some of his stablemates as a bumper horse, sidestepping Cheltenham to wait for a bumper Punchestown where he kept his unbeaten record intact. He returned to that track in December for his hurdles debut over 2m4f and put in a faultless round of jumping to win by eight and a half lengths. That was over 2m4f but he doesn’t look short of speed and the drop back to miles is unlikely to pose a problem given the stiff nature of this track and the testing conditions.
However, he’s sure to be overbet due to his connections – he’s a best-priced 10/11 at the the time of writing – and he’d also be the first Irish winner of the race, with Wild Rover and Perce Rock beaten as favourites in 2005 and 2007 respectively. So let’s take him on with a horse from a stable who loves to win this race. Nicky Henderson has saddled four of the last five winners and his sole representative, O O SEVEN, is likely to have had the race as his target for a good while, which might not be the case with the favourite. The six-year-old has certainly earned a crack at this level by winning both his starts over hurdles, the latest of which came over course and distance and the form looks solid with the third previously runner-up in Grade 2 company. He ran green that day and still has some growing up to do but he’s clearly got plenty of raw ability and, with the Mullins runner taking a huge chunk out of the market, he’s a backable price too.
3.00: 32RedSport.com Veterans’ Handicap Chase Final (Final Of The 2015 Veterans’ Chase Series), 3m37yds
The Veterans Handicap Chase Final has attracted a big field of 16 and it’s great to see the old boys compete against each other for such a valuable prize. As it’s a handicap the highest rated horses carry more weight and the classy French Opera is attempting to give weight away to all. That’s a big ask and I’m also not sure he will see out three miles on soft ground around here as well as some of the others. One horse guaranteed to get home is the David Pipe-trained SOLL, a course and distance winner on heavy ground and back to his best when fourth in the Becher Chase last time. In making a case for him you also have to consider RELAX, who is 3lb better off with the Pipe horse for their close duel at Newbury in February. He looked in need of his first run back when finishing well beaten and his trainer Venetia Williams, who is renowned for getting her charges back to form from nowhere, is likely to have targeted the 11-year-old at this. They are big enough prices to back them both.
3.35: 32Red.com Handicap Hurdle, 1m7f216yds
Last year’s winner Rayvin Black is back to attempt a repeat but he’ll do well to defy a 18lb higher mark and I’m. Ore interested in the two at the foot of the weights. Both LOCHNAGER and See The Rock are 2lb wrong in fact but the latter horse has shown enough in his three hurdle starts to suggest he can go close here, while the former is surely better than his current mark and gets the vote by virtue of the fact he’s over double the price. It took a while for the penny to drop over hurdles for him but he came good at Uttoxeter in December 2014 and might have followed up at Exeter just nine days later had he not fallen. He’s been off since and therefore has his fitness to prove, though I’m happy to take a chance on that given his trainer Venetia Williams can ready one after a layoff and his generous odds.
Free bet offer – back a winner at 4/1 or bigger in any of the six races shown live on Channel 4* with bet365 and they will give you a free bet to the same stake (up to £50 per customer per race) on the next race shown live on Channel 4.