Our racing guru is hopeful of taking some money off the Sandown bookies.
If you’re having a bet at Sandown this afternoon – and why not? – the following five horses might just help you turn a profit.
ARTHURS OAK (Sandown 1.50) @ 11/4 Coral
Some bookmakers make Bold Henry favourite for this race after his win over track and trip last time, but the horse he beat that day can gain revenge. There was only two and a quarter lengths between them at the line and a 5lb turnaround in the weights is one reason for thinking the runner-up can reverse the form. But it’s more the fact the race was run to suit the winner that is the real clincher. Arthurs Oak is a natural front runner and with plenty of competition for the lead that day his rider Aidan Coleman was forced into going harder than he wanted. It’s doubtful that scenario will play out again this afternoon and the selection, who had previously looked very progressive when winning at Huntingdon and Haydock, can resume his winning ways.
MAXIMISER (Sandown 2.25) @ 12/1 Hills
The bookmakers make this a match between Feltham winner Tea For Two and Bristol De Mai, who has won three of his five chase starts and is aiming for a hat-trick here. However, I’m not sure it’s so cut and dried and reckon Simon West’s horse has a better chance than his price would suggest. Unbeaten in two starts over hurdles last season, he ran a cracker when second on his chase debut at Carlisle in November, splitting Silsol and Seeyouatmidnight, and both those horses have done plenty to advertise the form since. Sent off favourite for a hot novice at Newbury on his next start, he was jumping well up front and still travelling when crumpling on landing after taking the last fence on the back straight. Connections believe him to be a Cheltenham prospect and have gone to the trouble of booking of Richard Johnson, so the front pair may not have it all between them.
BAYWING (Sandown 3.00) @ 9/2 Betfred
Nicky Richards has placed this progressive seven-year-old well to win four on the bounce, starting off at Carlisle in November off a mark of 89, and even his revised mark of 135 may underestimate him. At his best on very deep ground (all four wins have been on heavy), he still looked green when hacking up at Haydock last time and his rider Ryan Day summed up the performance well when saying it was “like a tractor going through mud.” Today’s conditions are therefore absolutely perfect for him and no other horse will be staying on better up the stiff uphill finish. Brian Harding takes over this afternoon and he knows him well having steered him home three times already. This is the horse’s ‘Champion Hurdle’ as the ground may well have gone against him come the spring festivals and I’d be very disappointed if he let us down.
PETE THE FEAT (Sandown 3.30) @ 9/1 Betfair
Most of the runners in this 3m handicap chase have question marks against them and it could be worth taking a chance on Charlie Longsdon’s veteran, who has been running well since returning from injury and has been given a chance by the handicapper. The winner of eight of his chase starts, he showed the fire was still in his belly when a close second at Fontwell in December and since finished a perfectly respectable fourth (of 12) in the North Yorkshire Grand National over a trip that stretched his stamina to the limit. The handicapper has kindly dropped him 2lb to a mark of 130, which is 5lb lower than his last winning one, and connections clearly mean business by booking Richard Johnson to ride.
BOLISTER (Sandown 4.05) @ 10/1 bet365
A tricky handicap hurdle to close out proceedings at Sandown and the forecast favourite, Bon Enfant, looks plenty short enough given he made hard work of beating a 33/1 shot (who has been well beaten since) at Wetherby last time. An initial mark of 122 seems fair enough but this George Moore-trained bottom-weight is potentially even better handicapped off 102, with claimer George Gorman taking 7lb off. The five-year-old needs to step up on what he’s shown in three novices (all at Plumpton) for sure but his latest third gives plenty of encouragement for that, and that run also proved he acts on ground this heavy. What’s most to like about him, though, is his double-figure price. All aboard!
I’ve backed all the above in singles but couldn’t resist a full cover bet (doubles and up) too as I’m plain greedy!