We hark all the way back to 1958 for our headline, courtesy of The Olympics, which we’re sure you all remember – or maybe not.
Friday action comes from Sandown and Exeter, with seven races on the box and we go first to the Esher track, where the opening race is the Betfair Novices Handicap Chase at 1.50.
Just the six runners in this, but it’s a trappy little affair with at least 5 of the runners in with a chance.
The Paul Nicholls‘ trained Halo Des Obeaux is the only 4-y-o in the field and therefore gets an 8lb allowance, which, when deducted from a seemingly generous opening mark of 128, makes it our main selection. A hurdles winner at Auteuil before joining the yard, this youngster has shown distinct promise in both hurdle races and the quick switch to fences may pay dividends. We recommend a bet at 3-1.
The best chase form on offer is probably possessed by Mahler’s Promise, which has demonstrated excellent proficiency over the larger obstacles and is possibly unlucky not to be 3-3, after a slipping saddle last time out. To cover all bases(?) we also suggest a tad e/w on this one at 4-1.
The Novice Hurdle at 2.25 looks at the mercy of Brave Kingdom, but we are not of a mind to recommend a bet at a shade of odds-on, so we will move swiftly on to the Betfair Exchange Handicap Chase at 3.00, in which we will take a chance on the well-being of Boagrius from the Tom George yard.
This 9-y-o has had a quiet couple of years, with just 6 runs in two years, but its last win was off a mark of 126, whereas today it’s an almost derisory 115.
With the stable in good form and a rapidly improving Conditional removing a further 7lbs, this might just be the time to catch it and we recommend an each way punt at an attractive 12-1.
Final race at Sandown is the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle at 3.35, which has a field of 12.
We have no hesitation in plumping for Pileon in this.
For the whole of last season the Philip Hobbs yard was under a bit of a cloud, a problem which has happily now been resolved. The effect is that ‘young’ Phil has a bunch of well-handicapped horses and this is one of them.
A dual Novice Hurdle winner in early 2020, this 7-y-o made an eye-catching return to action at Aintree when leading over the last before finishing a close fourth over slightly longer than today’s trip and, with that run under its surcingle, surely will go close this afternoon. We suggest a half decent win bet at 100-30.
Down at Exeter we get three races for our delectation and delight, starting with the betting.bet Novices Chase at 2.05.
The market for this race is headed by the apple of Harry Fry‘s eye, Boothill, which is currently trading at even money. This slightly fragile 6-y-o finished second in both Irish Points before coming over and taking a Bumper and a Novice Hurdle in 2020. Those races were ten months apart and it was another ten months before Boothill reappeared with a solid 3rd in a Listed Handicap Hurdle at Ascot off a mark of 135. Esteemed trainer blamed himself for leaving the horse ‘undercooked’ and predicted a different horse next time.
Well, folks, this is ‘next time’ and, although there’s not much mileage in the price we think this little beastie is potentially Festival bound, so we will take a deep(ish) breath and recommend a whack at the price.
Next up is the betting.bet Handicap Chase at 2.40, in which it is hard to see past Gunsight Ridge. (“Ah, I understand the headline, now”)
Olly Murphy‘s 6-y-o finished an excellent third at Aintree behind a subsequent winner on seasonal/chasing debut last month and can compete off the same mark this afternoon. Sure to have come on for that spin, this Irish Point winner must be suited by today’s increased distance and should be backed at 2-1.
The show closes with the Visit betting.bet Chase at 3.15 and this long distance event is replete with the usual suspects among the 17 who are due to take part.
We’ve selected two to give us a run for the hard earned, both available at 16s.
The Late Legend and Aaron Lad are the two beauties in question and may the force be with them.
Halo Des Obeaux 1.50 Sandown 2pts win @ 3-1
Mahler’s Promise 1.50 Sandown 1pt e/w @ 4-1 (2 places)
Boagrius 3.00 Sandown 1pt e/w @ 12-1 (4 places Hills/Skybet)
Pileon 3.35 Sandown 4pts win @ 100-30
Boothill 2.05 Exeter 6pts win @ evens
Gunsight Ridge 2.40 Exeter 3pts win @ 2-1
The Late Legend 3.15 Exeter 1pt e/w @ 16-1 (6 places Skybet)
Aaron Lad 3.15 Exeter 1pt e/w @ 16-1 (6 places Skybet)