What a Saturday of racing with a cracking card at Sandown, including the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase and the Dublin Festival, with four Grade 1’s on today’s card. There is more top action tomorrow at the Dublin Festival.
Today there is also racing at Kempton, Musselburgh, Wetherby and Lingfield.
Have a great Saturday and check out my selections below. Cheers!
1.50 Sandown – Contenders Hurdle (Listed Race) 2m
Call Me Lord will be a warm order to win a race that his trainer has pretty much farmed with Buveur D’Air in recent years, and this hardy sort has stacks of good Sandown form to call upon, most of it in ground similar to today’s, too. In fact, it’s been a long-held belief among many punters that he simply had to go right-handed, but he put that theory to bed with a game win in the International at Cheltenham back in December, and he will be hard to beat.
However, the concession of 6lb to the improving novice Eldorado Allen certainly gives the latter a chance. He impressed when only going down by less than a length over C&D last time out, travelling nicely and pulling clear with the winner from two out. He gave the useful Severano a beating here back in 2018 as well and although he’s clearly not been easy to train, he now looks back on track, and can topple Call Me Lord and cause a minor upset here.
Selection: Eldorado Allen win 9/4 Unibet
3.00 Sandown – Handicap Hurdle 3m
Plenty you can give some sort of chance to including Bold Plan, who was an early casualty at Ascot last time but had looked impressive when scoring at Haydock the time before and could easily get back on track. The unexposed Big Shark still has plenty more to offer, as does the David Pipe trained Remastered, who went down fighting at Chepstow, with Welsh National winner Potters Corner just proving too good for him.
However, at a much bigger price the vote goes to Captain Tommy, from a yard going great guns at present, that of Harry Whittington. His third in the Huntingdon Pertemps qualifier last time out looks a very solid piece of form, and despite the fact the handicapper nudges him up a couple of pounds for that, that still leaves him on a mark well below what the handicapper first thought him capable of, and he now looks to be going the right way. If he’s designs on running in the Final at the Festival, he’ll need to be either winning this, or going close, as he needs a rise in the weights to get in.
Selections: Captain Tommy each way 28/1 Unibet
Bold Plan each way 7/1 Unibet
1.25 Leopardstown – Dublin Chase Grade 1 2m
A terrific race for the money that’s probably only missing Defi Du Seuil, and you’d have as good a race as what the Champion Chase itself promises to be.
A Plus Tard and Chacun Pour Soi met here over Christmas in a Grade 1 chase, the former coming out on top after the latter just landed a bit flat-footed over the last. It’s entirely possible that form will be franked again, but Min is a class act and might have too much for the pair of them anyway.
His performance over 20f in the Melling Chase last April was one of the highlights of the season, and although he found Un De Sceaux too good for him in the Irish Champion Chase subsequently, he lost little in defeat. He didn’t have to be at his best to win here in December, but that should have put him spot on for this, and he can win it again before going on to Cheltenham.
Selection: Min win 9/4 Unibet
3.10 – Champion Hurdle Grade 1 2m
Cheltenham might not be the happiest of hunting ground for Sharjah (yet?) but Leopardstown certainly is, and he can come out on top in a fascinating Champion Hurdle that should answer a few questions.
The first is whether the drop back to 2m will bother the unbeaten Honeysuckle, who looked outstanding when beating Bacardys in the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse in December, and the way she travelled there suggests she’ll have the speed to cope with the drop back. But that is still a question, whereas with Sharjah we know this is his trip, his track and ground, and he was every bit as impressive when defeating Petit Mouchoir in the Matheson, recording a huge speed figure in the process. He has to give 7lb to the mare, but I think he’s more than capable of doing so.
Selection: Sharjah win 6/4 Unibet
2.45 Wetherby – Towton Novices’ Chase 3m
All six can be given some sort of chance, but the improving Boldmere makes the most appeal. Useful over hurdles, he’s proving himself even better over fences, with ready wins at Leicester and Doncaster, and given there’s still room for improvement with his jumping, it’ll be a surprise if we’ve seen the best of him yet.
Selection: Boldmere win 2/1 Unibet
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