It is very much the calm before the Cheltenham storm this afternoon with little top class action to get stuck into. Even Sandown’s card is devoid of its usual quality with this year’s Imperial Cup being well below the standard of some recent renewals.
But we can still try to get some extra ammunition in the bank ahead of the Festival and our first tip runs in the opener at the Esher track, a juvenile novices’ hurdle.
Matchbook Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
Nigel Hawke is one of the hottest trainers around at present having saddled five winners from his last 14 runners and DEAUVILLE CRYSTAL looks a progressive sort for him in that first race.
He has form on heavy and so probably wouldn’t want the ground to dry out too much, but it is likely to be tiring in any event and this horse has plenty of stamina.
|Deauville Crystal (ew)||1.20 Sandown||11/2||BetVictor|
EBF ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final
Arguably the best race of the day is up next – the EBF Final – and it is a contest that has thrown up many decent winners in the past.
We always think it pays to look for horses likely to improve for stepping up in trip as there is more chance of them being ahead of the handicapper, and on that basis two that catch our eye are MAN FROM MARS and RAMSES DE TEILLEE.
Both have been seen staying on to good effect over 2 miles in recent races and appear capable of better form than they’ve shown so far.
The lightly raced GAITWAY is the other interesting one and he is worth backing too in case the going does improve dramatically.
|Man From Mars (ew)||1.50 Sandown||18/1||Ladbrokes|
|Ramses De Teillee (ew)||1.50 Sandown||18/1||Stan James|
|Gaitway (ew)||1.50 Sandown||10/1||Bet365|
Matchbook Handicap Chase
There’s a staying chase next that we think can go the way of FOURTH ACT for a Tizzard team that has so much to look forward to next week. As with the opener, let’s hope the dead eight go to post to make this a decent each way betting heat.
|Fourth Act (ew)||2.25 Sandown||7/1||BetVictor, Coral|
Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle
The Imperial Cup follows and the ground could play a pivotal role here. As long as it isn’t too soft, LONDON PRIZE looks a good bet as he is one of few in the line-up with a progressive profile.
The same is true of Not Another Muddle and his handler, Gary Moore, has a great record here and in handicap hurdles generally. It is interesting that Moore throws this lightly raced six year old straight in at the deep end on his handicap debut.
However, a safer option might be GASSIN GOLF, who has been placed in two better renewals of this in the past. He has a decent claimer on board today and rarely runs a bad race. These truly run handicaps really seem to suit him.
Chieftain’s Choice looks another danger.
|London Prize (ew)||3.00 Sandown||11/1||Paddy Power|
|Gassin Golf (ew)||3.00 Sandown||8/1||BetVictor, Coral|
EBF Stallions/TBA Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race
Finally, there is a listed mares’ bumper at 3.35.
Cap Soleil is likely to be all the rage in the market, but that might mean her stablemate, OSCAR ROSE, could go under the radar. She looks a strong stayer so hopefully this will turn into a stamina test.
Northen raider ILLWALKTHELINE has a similar profile and could be over-priced.
|Oscar Rose (ew)||3.35 Sandown||20/1||BetVictor, Coral|
|Illwalktheline (ew)||3.35 Sandown||22/1||Bet365|