Sandown escaped the worst of the midweek rain that swept across Britain and clerk of the course Andrew Cooper described conditions as a mix of good to soft and good on Thursday morning ahead of today’s six-race card. Further showers are forecast.
In the opening conditional jockey’s contest Song Of The Hunter is 3lbs “well-in” having been raised that amount for finishing second over an additional half-mile at Newbury last week. He looks sure to go close reverting to the minimum trip, but I also hope Gericault Roque (1.55) will appreciate the return to two miles having folded tamely over a longer trip in a good novice hurdle at Fakenham last time.
The each way selection had previously beaten Natural History – now rated 132 – off level weights at Plumpton and he looks well treated on that run from an opening mark of 117. There was 11/2 and 5/1 available first thing but he was a best price of 4/1 with BetVictor and Boylesports at the time of writing.
Lecale’s Article (3.05) looked a non-stayer when runner up at Warwick over 2m 5f last time having looked potentially smart when landing the odds at Newbury in December. The selection – 5/6 with William Hill – had been off the track 970-days prior to that hurdles debut having cost his connections £320,000 after landing his sole point in Ireland back in April 2018.
My two against the field in the near two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle are Pol Crocan and Adicci (4.15) with marginal preference for the latter who finished runner up at Wincanton last month over an extended 2m 5f from a 1lb lower mark. The ew recommendation has only raced on heavy ground so far this season but has run well on better ground in the past and Kevin Brogan again takes off a valuable 5lbs. There was 13/2 available first thing but he is 11/2 with William Hill at the time of posting.
Pol Crocan steps up in trip after two novice hurdle successes at Wincanton over the minimum trip. He races as if this step up in trip should suit although it did appear that the odds-on favourite of Paul Nicholls – Hell Red – failed to give his running on ground softer than ideal.
At Leicester Lots Of Luck (3.30) finished third in a better race at Huntingdon last time and should appreciate the drop back to the minimum distance from a 2lbs lower mark. The selection – 11/8 from 13/8 with William Hill – is still 7lbs higher than for his last winning mark, but connections look to have found a good opportunity.
Brian Hughes takes the mount on Lickpenny Larry and he represents a big danger in receipt of 17lbs from the selection and down to a mark 1lb below his last winning mark. He was beaten over 12L at Wetherby last time, however, and has not won since November 2019.