Three top class Jumps meetings today, two North and one South, with a veritable feast of competitive action.
We start with the meeting at Sandown, with the most valuable race on the card, the Betfred Heroes Handicap Hurdle at 3.00. 17 go to post for this, with the Paul Nicholls’ trained Topofthegame favourite at 5-1.
This 6-y-o was last seen finishing 4th in the Lanzarote last month, for which effort it has been raised 3lbs. Add the step up in trip as an unknown and at that price, we pass.
Most interesting, nay intriguing, runner in the field is King Of Fashion, making its stable debut for the Kerry Lee yard. This 8-y-o, previously trained by Iain Duncan but still in the same ownership, produced some sterling efforts in good quality Northern hurdle races last season, winning two from eight and showing itself to be a strong stayer on soft ground. On a good handicap mark, this gelding should be well ridden by the promising Richard Patrick, who compensates for not having a surname by taking off a valuable 5lbs, so hopefully we’ll be shouting ‘go on, Dick’ or ‘go on Pat’ to land our each way bet at 14-1.
The other feature race at Sandown is the Betfred Mobile Masters Handicap Chase at 3.35, and our selection in this is Sametegal, each way at 8-1. We gave this Paul Nicholls’ trained 9-y-o when it finished third at Cheltenham last time out and, off a pound lower mark and the step up to 3m both in its favour, we do so again today.
The Betfred TV Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at 2.25 sees the second appearance in England of Nicky Henderson’s French import Terrefort, which made a winning stable debut at Huntingdon on Jan 12th. Although winning a handicap off 137 would not usually make a horse a good thing in a Grade 1, this 5-y-o looked every inch a ‘monster’, with loads more to come and the 6-4 on offer should be snapped up.
Up at Musselburgh, the main action takes place at 3.15 with the bet365 Edinburgh National Handicap Chase over a gruelling 4m1f, with a field of 12.Although form over this trip is thin on the ground, we recommend an each way bet on Bells ‘N’ Banjos, trained by Fergal O’Brien at 13-2. This horse has always threatened to benefit from a real slog and, boy, will it get it today.
The other feature race in Scotland is at 2.05, when the bet365 Scottish County Hurdle takes place, with a disappointing field of just five. Laid out for this since winning over CD a month ago, Sir Chauvelin is a worthy favourite at 15-8 and should be backed accordingly.
Leaping across to Wetherby, the totesport.com Towton Novices Chase has brought together a field of six very promising young horses and the value bet in this race is the only female, Pearl Royale, trained by Nigel Hawke. This 6-y-o lady looked a complete natural when winning her only chase to date and just could be a star of the near future. With the high calibre Tom Cannon booked, let’s hope he can fire her at the fences and give it his best shot. (‘Stop it!’ Ed.)
A win bet at 5-1 is advised.
C’est tout, mes amis.
King Of Fashion 3.00 Sandown e/w @ 14-1 (5 places)
Sametegal 3.35 Sandown e/w @ 8-1
Terrefort 2.25 Sandown win @ 6-4
Bells ‘N’ Banjos 3.15 Musselburgh e/w @ 13-2
Sir Chauvelin 2.05 Musselburgh win @ 15-8
Pearl Royale 2.40 Wetherby win @ 5-1