The top-class jump action continues to as this Saturday the ITV cameras head to Sandown racecourse for their Tingle Creek meeting, plus we have action from Aintree that includes the Becher Chase and Grand Sefton Chase, both of which are run over the unique Grand National-style fences.
13.50 1m7½f (1m7f119y) Planteur At Chapel Stud Henry VIII Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4yo+)
A small but select field with all 6 of the runners winning last time out. Paul Nicholls is doubly represented in the shape of Hitman and Tamaroc Du Mathan. The latter jumped well when winning on his reappearance recently, he should run his race but this is much tougher and Harry Cobden prefers his stable mate on this occasion. Another ex-French recruit for the yard Hitman was an impressive winner on debut for new connections, being a 4-year-old, he receives a handy weight allowance here and has plenty of scope for further improvement, his form however on what we have seen to date is not as solid as some of the others in the line-up. Ga Law and Allmankind both have impressed over the larger obstacles to date. The former will find this tougher on these weight terms up in grade but the key thing is that both are keen enthusiastic types who look to only have one way of running from the front so are in danger of over racing in the early stages. If this is the case Eldorado Allen looks the one likely to capitalise on things, he was a fortunate winner at Cheltenham on his most recent start but his chase form is starting to have solid feel to it and has always appealed on breeding to make a better chaser in time.
Selection: Eldorado Allen
All eyes will be on Altior here in his bid to make it 16 wins from 17 starts over fences. The Nicky Henderson superstar chaser is also 5 from 5 here at the Esher venue and with a recent racecourse gallop under his belt is expected to arrive here in the best possible form. Paul Nicholls has saddled half of the winners in the last 18 running`s of the race and looks to have the main 2 dangers to the selection in the shape of 2017 winner Politologue and the fast improving Greaneteen. The former was last seen when successful in the Champion Chase but he didn’t have the Nicky Henderson runner to worry about on that occasion so it will be exciting to see the pair battle things out once more. Greaneteen returned with a victory in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter this season and connections feel he has the potential to progress into a graded performer this season. He adds an interesting element to the race but he takes on 2 of the best most proven chasers around and I`d rather take a watching brief with him for now at this level.
15.00 3m5f (3m4f166y) Betfair Exchange Back And Lay London National Handicap Chase (Class 2) (5yo+ 0-150)
Cloudy Glen looks the obvious place to start for the inform Venetia Williams team. He looks a fast-improving staying chaser based on his comfortable success in the Southern National last time. He should go close once again but a 11lb higher mark will make things considerably tougher on this occasion. Doing Fine was back in third that day and was no match for the winner but with Millie Wonnacott claiming a handy 7lbs he receives a considerable weight turnaround on this occasion. We know he handles conditions well as he actually was successful in this race last season when the race was void and makes more appeal at the likely odds.
Classic Ben is a previous handicap chase winner here at Sandown but that was his only success over the larger obstacles in 11 attempts which is a little off putting.
Selection: Doing Fine (Next Best)
Nicky Henderson has saddled the winner of this race in 3 of the last 8 years so his runner Mister Coffey has to be respected following his comfortable course and distance win recently. That was his first start in a handicap and is open to much improvement still, the 10lb rise will make things tougher and this will be a much more of a test so at likely short odds it could be worth looking elsewhere. Paul Nicholls saddles the top 2 in the field and the lightly raced Solo makes some appeal on handicap debut. However it`s the mare Eglantine Du Seuil who is preferred to step up on her debut run recently for the yard. The Ex Willie Mullins runner travelled up well before her run flattened out suggesting that she may come on for that run and its an interesting move by connections to drop her back to the minimum trip on this occasion. Jockey Angus Chelada takes off a handy 7lbs and the trainer / jockey partnership are 2 from 2 over hurdles to date. The handicap debutants Benson and Galice Macalo are open to improvement still and big runs would not surprise.
Selection: Eglantine Du Seuil (NAP)
13.30 3m2f (3m1f188y) (Grand National) William Hill Becher Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (6yo+)
Walk On The Mill is seeking a hat trick of victories in the race and his recent return at Ascot should put him spot on to defend his crown, he should be thereabouts once more despite the higher mark as proven form under over these fences counts for plenty. Kimberlite Candy was back in 2nd last year and arrives here on seasonal debut once more after last being seen winning the Classic Chase at Warwick. The Gelding should run his race but the 16lb higher mark will make things much more challenging. Trainer Nigel Twiston Davies has had plenty of success in this race over the years and his runner Callet Mad makes plenty of appeal despite the 693 days lay off. He had some good chase form to his name when last seen and this solid jumper looks the type to take to these fences. At bigger odds it would not be a surprise to see Aso run well, he is unproven over this type of trip but he has high class form to his name and could be the type to take to this type of test now.
Selection: Callet Mad (Each Way)
14.05 2m1f (2m209y) williamhill.com Best Odds Guaranteed Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle (Listed Race) (GBB Race) (Class 1)
Alan King and Gavin Cromwell have trained 5 of the last 8 winners so their runners Her Indoors and Army Of One should be considered. Both however are unraced over hurdles and will need to prove pretty useful recruits to take this on debut. Megan was a good winner at Leicester for the Stuart Edmunds team who have followed a similar route with there juveniles in the past. She looks the one to beat based on that effort but that is replicated in her odds. See The Eagle Fly was back in 4th that day but she seemed to run below par that day and if returning to he debut form when successful at Fontwell she could get much closer on his occasion with conditions back in her favour. Scholastic and Hiconic have more experience than most in the field and should go well but lack the potential for further improvement.
Selection: See The Eagle Fly
The top 3 look the ones to focus on here in this intriguing contest. Fan`s favourite Frodon should run his usual race in his bid to follow up that recent success at Cheltenham and has race sharpness in favour. He does however face 2 tough opponents in the shape of last season’s gold cup 2nd Santini and former Gold Cup winner Native River. The Nicky Henderson runner is 4lbs clear on official ratings and has the strongest recent form to his name, he`s going to be tough to beat but with likely bigger targets in mind further in the season if he is to prove vulnerable it could be first time up this season under what is likely to be a gruelling test. With that in mind last season’s winner Native River is fancied to make it back to back victories in the race. He will not want to get in too much of an early battle with Frodon but that a side there looks no obvious reason why the Colin Tizzard runner will not go close.
Selection: Native River
15.15 2m5f (2m5f19y) (Grand National) William Hill Grand Sefton Handicap Chase (GBB Race) (Class 2) (6yo+)
Despite being a 10-year-old the lightly raced Huntsman Son could have more to offer over fences still and after his impressive at Wetherby recently he is up 9 lb but is a good solid jumper who should go well. Crievehill finished 6th in this race a couple of years ago and shaped with plenty of promise before weakening out of things in the Old Roan chase on his seasonal return. He`s back to a handicap mark which should see him competitive and looks to have conditions to suit. Might Bite showed some of the old spark on his return at Ascot recently and a big run would not surprise if taking to these fences.
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