The crowds look set to flock to Sandown today to say farewell to the greatest jockey of all time and a true sporting legend.
Tony McCoy has been a punters best friend for over two decades and there would be no more fitting ending to his stellar career than a success on his last ride as professional pilot in the green and gold silks of one of his greatest supporters, JP McManus – and the horse’s name befits the occasion too…Box Office.
Jonjo O’Neill’s charge, who will carry the burden of the emotional investment of sports fans across the land looking for a happy ending, appears a worthy favourite in the handicap hurdle that will bring the curtain down on the Champ’s great journey at about 4.30pm.
However, when it comes to investing hard cash, better value lies elsewhere on a card that also brings to an end an unforgettable jumps season – a season that has brought us potential new superstars in the shape of Don Poli, Faugheen, Douvan, Coneygree and Vatour, to name but a few.
The is certainly plenty to look forward to in 2015/6, even if AP will leave a giant void in the sport.
bet365 Gold Cup Chase
Today’s feature race is the bet365 Gold Cup and the trainer of the season, Paul Nicholls, has his usual strong hand in a staying chase and of his four runners we think it is worth taking a chance on JUST A PAR.
He has had a relatively disappointing campaign, but this better ground and longer trip may bring out the best in him. Sean Bowen also looks the right man to convince him to put his best hoof forward.
The others we like are the Irish pair of GUESS AGAIN and GRAND JESTURE. The Irish have a fine record in this race and both of our selections ran really well at Cheltenham recently.
Grand Jesture chased home the impressive The Druid’s Nephew in the meeting’s big staying handicap chase, whilst Guess Again was in the process of running a mighty race for new trainer Tony Martin before coming down five out in the Kim Muir. Guess Again is a proven stayer who loves decent ground, whilst Grand Jesture is lightly raced and capable of improving again for the step up in trip.
Royale Knight was also on the shortlist, but it is hard to know how much his monumental effort in the Grand National recently may have taken out of him, whilst Ely Brown could run a big race at a monster price having fallen at the first in the National.
It is worth noting that the sponsors offer 5 places for each way bets on this race.
|Just A Par (ew)||3.50 Sandown||20/1||Bet365|
|Guess Again (ew)||3.50 Sandown||16/1||Bet365|
|Grand Jesture (ew)||3.50 Sandown||8/1||Bet365|
bet365 Oaksey Chase
Racing fans everywhere will be hoping that the AP McCoy Celebration Chase that precedes the big one won’t see the end of the road for another legend of the sport, but Sprinter Sacre has plenty to prove after pulling up in the Queen Mother and it would be great to just see him involved at the business end today. There is too much uncertainty to back him and the Oaksey Chase looks a more appealing contest from a betting perspective.
Tom Taaffe has his horses in fine form at the minute and that has tempted us to take another chance on ARGOCAT who ran a great race when we tipped him up at Aintree last season, where he finished third in the Betfred Bowl at 25/1 – beaten only 3 lengths by Silviniaco Conti.
The slightly shorter trip here will suit him perfectly, as will underfoot conditions, and he looks a cracking each way option.
|Argocat (ew)||2.35 Sandown||7/1||Bet365, Betfred, William Hill|
bet365 Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
The Juvenile Handicap Hurdle that opens the card looks to be beaten OLD GUARD and STERNRUBIN and at their current prices both should be backed each way.
|Old Guard (ew)||2.00 Sandown||6/1||Bet365|
|Sternrubin (ew)||2.00 Sandown||6/1||Bet365|
bet365 Josh Gifford Novices Handicap Chase
The other decent bet on the card is Henry Oliver’s DRESDEN in the Josh Gifford Novices’ Handicap Chase. Oliver is one of the most in-form trainers around at the moment and this horse flew home in the Red Rum Chase over 2 miles at Aintree a fortnight ago, to suggest he is ready to tackle this extra half mile.
|Dresden (ew)||5.00 Sandown||10/1||Betfred, Coral, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power|