13:50 Sandown Our first live TV race sees sixteen scheduled to go to post for a hugely competitive looking race. The early favourite is Full Irish who has previous course form and arrives here on the back of a convincing five length victory at Leicester last time out. However, both stable and jockey have been struggling for winners in recent weeks and the drying ground conditions would have to be a concern as both career victories came in very testing conditions. Nico De Boinville has returned from injury in fine form and boasts an excellent winning strike rate when riding for Nicky Henderson, who in turn has been banging in the winners and has a great record at Sandown. They team up here with Gaitway who has only raced four times but has already notched up two wins and a second, beating a couple of subsequent winners when last seen at Musselburgh in February. He has to prove he stays this longer trip but travelled really strongly last time out and looked to have plenty left in the tank so looks a decent each way bet at early double figure odds. Of the remainder, Lithic caught the eye with a commanding victory last weekend but has a 5lbs penalty for that and has disappointed over similar trips in the past, while Minella Awards is also considered having placed twice from three attempts over today’s trip but may also prefer softer ground. Gaitway (E/W)
14:05 Wolverhampton Nimr is two from two at Wolves and stayed on well to win over seven furlongs last time out, winning with what looked to be a bit in hand, so the step back up in trip may not be too much of an inconvenience despite having previously failed over similar trips on turf. Holiday Magic won three in a row towards the back end of last year and has only just come up short in two runs at Newcastle since, although has gone up a further 2lbs. He has winning form over the trip and has also won previously at Wolves so has to enter calculations. Supersta lost out by a nose in this race last year and is 3lbs higher for today’s renewal but has an excellent record at the track having made the frame in six from seven runs. He is partnered with Silvestre De Sousa this year, a jockey who has the ability to eke out that little extra from his mounts when needed, and therefore looks a decent each way chance at early each way odds. A final mention goes to Baraweez who makes his debut at Wolves but has made the frame in four from five over the trip and is now 1lbs below his last winning mark. Supersta (E/W)
14:25 Sandown Lucy Wadham has sent eight runners over fences in the last three years at Sandown, returning with three winners and four placed efforts for a 37.5% winning strike rate. Her only runner over fences today is Shanroe Santos who has won three from seven over today’s trip and followed up a decent second at Huntingdon early last month with a victory at Warwick a couple of weeks ago. He’s been upped 4lbs but has been performing well and looks capable of another victory in a race that looks to lack too much depth. The biggest danger looks to be Alan King’s Willoughby Hedge who was a course and distance winner last time out and has won four from seven over a three mile trip. He has an 8lbs rise to contend with which is a career high mark, but is respected nontheless. Based on recent form the remainder look to be fighting it out for the final place on offer, with Upswing the most likely to challenge now only 1lbs above his last winning mark. Shanroe Santos (WIN)
15:00 Sandown Both Nicky Henderson and Alan King have great records with their runners over hurdles at Sandown (both around a 30% winning strike rate over the last three years) and they saddle the two market leaders in Fixe Le Cap and William H Bonney. A twelve month break would normally be considered a negative but Fixe Le Cap won on return from a similar break in December 2015, while William H Bonney seems to get on well with Wayne Hutchinson and has a good record over the trip so should be in the mix if putting a lacklustre performance last time out behind him. I’d struggle to put you off either for each way purposes but for my selection I am opting for a bigger each way option in Chieftains Choice. The Kevin Frost runner has improved with each of his three runs this year and was a convincing winner over course and distance last time out, beating a decent looking Venetia Williams runner who won next time out. Today’s race is a step up in grade but he’s won off a higher mark in the past and looks to be progressing well this term so gets a tentative vote to grab a place. Chieftains Choice (E/W)
15:15 Wolverhampton Another competitive looking race yet for me the winner looks likely to come from the first three in the betting especially as nine of the last ten renewals have produced single figure odds winners. The favourite is Keystroke who is unbeaten in two at the course and was an emphatic winner over today’s trip at Kempton when last seen. Jockey Adam Kirby has been on board for the last two victories and keeps the ride today so a big run looks assured. My Target has won his last four but all came over a mile and he steps back in trip today off a 5lbs higher mark. He has course and distance form but i’m not convinced he’ll be seen to best effect over todays shorter trip so is passed over today. Yuften hasn’t been seen since winning over a mile in October 2016 but has made the frame in three from five over today’s trip and is 3lbs below his last winning mark so could prove to be the biggest danger if ready to go after five months away from the track. Keystroke (WIN)
15:35 Sandown With eight of the ten runners arriving on the back of victories last time out, yet a couple of those having only raced once, this looks to be a tough race to be overly confident in any selection given the potential for improvement across the board. The early favourite is Cap Soleil who is unbeaten in two and races for Fergal O’Brien who has won four from ten with his runners at Sandown in the last twelve months. She won both previous races nicely despite the winning distances not being too exciting, but is passed over for today’s race as the trainer has really gone off the boil in recent weeks. Warren Greatrex and Gavin Sheehan paired up to win this race last year and they are team up again with Petticoat Tails here. A winner of two bumpers from two, both in similar ground conditions to what she encounters today, she looks to have a decent chance of making it a hat-trick of victories. That said, I am opting for Redhotfillypeppers who is also unbeaten having won a point-to-point by ten lengths before a comfortable victory on first run for Willie Mullins, in a bumper at Punchestown on New Years Eve. She is seemingly held in high regard by connections and the fact that she races here rather than at Cheltenham next week could be a pointer in itself. Redhotfillypeppers (WIN) – NAP
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