Sandown’s fixture on Saturday carries over £250,000 in prize-money and includes the Grade One Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle, the return of classy mare Laurina and a £100,000 veteran’s chase final.
Will Reilly takes a look at the card
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A juvenile hurdle gets things under way. Gary Moore’s stable is in fine form. He runs Honorable, a 1m7f winner in France in August. Watch the betting for clues. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Torpillo won in France before winning over today’s course and distance last time. David Bridgwater’s Fukuto is a French hurdles winner having his first run for his new stable. A ten-furlong winner on the flat, Paddy The Chef finished third on his hurdling debut. This could turn out to be an interesting contest.
Selection: Torpillo will be a short price but Honorable could well give you a run for your money at a much bigger price
A £30,000 handicap chase that has attracted just four runners.
Paul Nicholls’ Capeland heads the weights and has won three of his last four races. Harry and Dan Skelton team up with Yorkist, who won from a rating of 130 at Aintree in November before being well beaten at Cheltenham last time. He’s now rated 130. Poker School is pretty consistent but it is two years since he won, but Darebin, who hails from the in-form Gary Moore stable, is now just two pounds above his Huntingdon winning mark. He’ll have to jump better than he did here last time but, if he does, should go well off bottom weight even though he may well be the outsider of the field, His stable is in good form.
Nicky Henderson’s Darius des Bois ran pretty well on his chasing debut at Ludlow last time and should go well even though he is dropping back in trip. Creep Desbois is tried in cheek-pieces after a couple of modest runs. A return to his best hurdling form of 14 months ago would give Western Miller a chance and his rating is dropping to reflect a couple of modest runs. Larry was going well when falling two out at Plumpton last time. Lithic is reasonably weighted based on his form of a year ago, likes this track and has been fitted with a visor for the first time. Prairie Town is four pounds above a winning mark but maybe has it to prove from his rating in terms of winning today. Dream Bolt was rated 128 when winning at Taunton in December 2017 and is now rated 122, a rating he has been beaten from but he could run into a place. Vocaliser won at Kempton rated 116 in March. He’s still rated 116 but his runs since that win have not been encouraging.
The eagerly-awaited return of Cheltenham Festival and Fairyhouse Grade One winner Laurina has arrived. Shewas rated 17lbs or more ahead of her three rivals but two of them have been pulled out of the race so Willie Mullins’ mare will be a very short price to land this. Ruby Walsh takes the ride.
The £50,000 Grade One Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle, which has been won by some very good horses, including, in the last three years, Summerville Boy, Finian’s Oscar and Yorkhill.
With Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson, Dan Skelton and Colin Tizzard all represented, a good race lies in store. Henderson’s Rathhill, who is owned by JP McManus, looked a good prospect when winning at Newbury and he looks set to go well. Elixir de Nutz, already a Grade Two winner, sets a good standard for the others to aim at.
The £100,000 Veterans’ Chase Handicap Chase final has produced a competitive race. Rathlin Rose’s run at Ascot in March brings her into things and Bishops Road ran well at Haydock in November so has a decent recent run to his name. Even though he has been raised five pounds for his Kelso win in December, Cultram Abbey has to be granted respect. Henllan Harri, Rock Gone, Exitas and Loose Chips (who finished fifth last year) also have good recent runs to their names. While Buywise won this race last year from today’s rating and the 2017 winner Pete The Feat is also among the field. The term Golden Oldies could have been written for these horses.
It’s a tough race to call. Rathlin Rose is a tentative choice.
Just the seven runners but it still looks a fairly open race.
Monsieur Lecoq and Our Merlin come here as recent winners, although the former’s win came in a maiden hurdle on heavy going and Our Merlin has been raised eight pounds for a good win at Wincanton. However, he should still run well today.
Thistimenextyear has finished second in each of his last three hurdle runs and has been raised five pounds in the ratings for the latest of them. Even so, I could still see him going well.
The consistent Court Royale won from a rating of 117 at Taunton in November and wasn’t disgraced in a Grade 3 handicap hurdle at Ascot last time. He’s now rated 124.
The lightly-raced Philip Hobbs runner Demopolis, a winner in France, is hard to assess based on his second at Haydock on heavy going at Haydock last time on his first run for the stable. He’s a half-brother to a Group One winner on the flat in Germany.
Eragon de Chanay won here in November on heavy going over a longer trip when rated 129 so has it to prove from his new rating of 135 and 2016 French hurdle winner Saintemilion has an absence of 740 days to overcome in order to score, even though he hails from the strong Paul Nicholls stable.