There was plenty of rain forecast for the south of England on Thursday and the prospect of sleet and further heavy showers on Friday ahead of today’s feature card at Sandown Park. The ITV cameras are in attendance for the last four races and conditions are likely to be extremely testing.
In the opening amateur riders contest My Way is likely to head the market given he led over the last in the prestigious and competitive Badger Beer Chase at Wincanton last time before failing to get home on good ground. That was run over an additional furlong than he faces today, but the prospect of softer ground and the stiff uphill finish suggests to me he may struggle to get home.
The first two home in the corresponding race 12 months ago lock horns again and it would be no surprise to see Boughtbeforelunch – in first-time blinkers – reverse form with Le Boizelo on 4lbs better terms. The each way nod, however, goes to Diable De Sivola (12.45) who travelled into the race very well before failing to get home over three-and-a-half miles in the Sussex National at Fontwell on his reappearance.
The each way selection – 6s with BetVictor – has been dropped 3lbs for that effort but is another who must prove his stamina having struggled to get home over C&D back in February – albeit in a much better race.
The Novices’ limited Handicap Chase is an absolute belter and Funambule Sivola and Morning Vicar have done us favours of late and I am loath to desert them. They have both been well found at the top of the market, however, and my two against the field are Killer Clown and Alnadam (1.50) with marginal preference for the Dan Skelton runner who gets the each way vote at Willam Hill who bet 5s and are betting four places.
The selection finished runner up at Carlisle on his chase debut and a 4lbs rise looks prohibitive, but the winner has subsequently hosed up back at the Cumbrian track from a 6lbs higher mark. Alnadam always struck me as the type who would be a better chaser than hurdler and he finished last season with a comfortable defeat of Demachine – gave 3lbs – over timber. The latter is now rated 140 over fences and Alnadam can race from 129 this afternoon.
Killer Clown failed to get home over three miles last time but jumped well until his stamina gave way. He has run well on soft ground in the past but was taken out of a chase at Newbury on account of the heavy ground back in October. He remains one to have on side going forward although the run of the stable’s Doc Penfro at Haydock midweek is a concern.
The Grade 2 Novices’ Hurdle is a terrific race with four of the five winning last time out including Sending Love who looked a different animal when winning at Ffos Las on his reappearance to the one who had disappointed so badly when pulling up on his previous start back in March. As is often the case trainer Paul Nicholls tweaked his wind during the summer and he could hardly have been more impressive in south Wales.
Marginal preference, however, goes to Star Gate (2.25) who was himself visually impressive when scoring on his hurdles debut at Chepstow last month. He may not have beaten a great deal but the third won an Ascot handicap from a mark of 115 next time and the time was a second quicker than the first division of what is always an informative novice hurdle.
As with Sending Love this represents a huge step up in class but one, I believe he can take in his stride. One note of caution the stable have gone 49 runners since their last success and they had two beaten favourites at Market Rasen on Thursday.
Severano will be all the rage in the 2m 3f+ handicap chase at Exeter having created such a favourable impression at Sandown on his chase debut and a 4lbs rise looks fair although the form of the Oliver Sherwood stable is a slight cause for concern.
Molineaux (2.40) would have gone close in this corresponding race two years ago but for being badly hampered and unseating two out. The winner Siruh Du Lac was very well handicapped at the time and the horse who knocked jockey Sean Bowen out of the plate on the selection was runner up Dusky Lark who reopposes today returning from a 621-day absence. A market move for the latter would certainly be worth noting but Molineaux – 9/2 with Boylesports – ran well over an inadequate trip at Ascot on his reappearance – at a time when the Colin Tizzard yard were not firing – and gets the ew vote.
The combination of 2m 3f+ and heavy ground was too much for Crack Du Ninian (1.05) at Ayr last time and the return to two miles at Sedgefield can see Jennie Candlish’s return to form. His win on his seasonal reappearance at Uttoxeter was gained on soft ground and there is rain forecast for the north east on Friday. The selection is 9/2 with 10bet.