Today’s Sandown card brings the curtain down on the 2020/2021 jumps season and it would be somewhat fitting if Plan Of Attack took the feature Bet365 Gold Cup back across the Irish Sea for Henry De Bromhead and Rachel Blackmore who have monopolised the major prizes in Britain for the last couple of months.
The 8-y-old was still going well when coming down three out in his first-time blinkers in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham last time. It was too soon to say whether he would have been able to cope with fellow Irish raider Mount Ida, but he looked to have everything else covered including Bob Mahler (3.40), but it is the latter who gets the each way vote at 28/1 with Boylesports five places.
The selection clouted at least a couple on the way round at Cheltenham but was still in there pitching when brought down by Plan Of Attack three out and the blinkers he wore on that occasion are replaced by cheekpieces which he was fitted with when landing the Edinburgh National last February and when third – behind Scottish National winner Mighty Thunder – this year.
This is not a strong renewal of this prestigious and valuable contest but I have backed both Plan Of Attack – 5s – and Bob Mahler each way.
Champion Chaser Put The Kettle On receives 7lbs from Altior (3.05) and it is possible that the mare will follow up her Festival success, but trainer Nicky Henderson fits his stable-star with first-time cheekpieces, and I hope to see the headgear bring about a revival in fortunes for the 11-y-old who looked in need of further when second at Kempton on his sole start this term over Christmas.
The selection – 5/2 with BetVictor – is unbeaten in five starts over today’s C&D and is reported to be working very well at Seven Barrows. This is no two-horse race and Sceau Royal would have gone close in the Champion Chase had he not met with significant interference last time.
The race I am most looking forward to on the card is the 2m 4f novices’ handicap chase and preference for Not That Fuisse (4.50) over Killer Clown is marginal. The former – 4s with BetVictor – can race off the same mark as when runner up to Nietzsche at Ayr last weekend when he would surely have won but for missing out the second last. I hope that race has not left its mark.
Killer Clown – 7/2 with MansionBet – is 3lbs higher than when finishing second in the BetVictor Greatwood Gold Cup at the beginning of March and is 17lbs higher than when finishing third over C&D back in December. That was on soft ground, however, and Emma Lavelle’s 7-y-old has improved for the better ground in recent starts.
At Haydock Finest Sound (4.35) is taken to go one better than when just touched off by Astro King at Nottingham on his reappearance from a 2lbs lower mark. I am a big fan of the Sir Michael Stoute-trained winner, however, and expect to see Finest Sound cement his place in the Royal Hunt Cup in June with victory. There was 6/4 available with William Hill on Friday but he is Evens with the same firm at the time of posting.
Jim Crowley goes to Ripon for a couple of rides leaving Dane O’Neill in the saddle aboard Thibaan (5.55) at Doncaster this evening. O’Neill was in the plate for the selection’s sole win which came over this evening’s C&D from a 2lbs lower mark back in August and the colt was given a wind operation back in October. I get the impression he won’t be a colt for long if he does not put his best foot forward this evening. The 4s with 10Bet looks fair.
Labeeb (7.15) has never won on the all-weather but he was first past the post at Wolverhampton back in July and returns to Dunstall Park this evening in a hot little handicap. The selection – 11/8 with BetVictor – improved on turf last season winning two of his three starts and he has been gelded over the winter.
It is great to have Tom Marquand back in Britain having taken Australia by storm again in recent weeks. He has a strong book of rides including He’s A Keeper who has such a good record at Wolverhampton and is likely to have been freshened up following a 4 month lay-off.