Hardly a surprise this selection in a three horse race in which we see the odds-on favourite for the Champion Hurdle at an even shorter price. There’s really not much to say about this race because this pipe opener for Buveur D’Air will be won as easily as it wants to. I’d be shocked if either of his rivals come within five lengths of this fantastic talent.
BUVEUR D'AIR (WIN)
The first of two trips up to Musselburgh where our first selection sees top northern jockey Brian Hughes climb aboard Crackdeloust. A winner in his most recent race he aims to build on that Catterick victory by stepping up in class and taking on the well fancied Amour De Nuit and Sir Chauvelin. The aforementioned duo are vying for favouritism at the head of the market and with one a former course and distance winner and the other trained by Paul Nicholls it’s not difficult to see why however at around 7/1 the Brian Ellison runner looks cracking value. The winner may come from the more fancied two however I’m happy to back Crackdeloust each way in an attempt to finish in the first two placings.
There’s a couple of top-class novice chases worth looking at today and the first comes here at Sandown.
Cyrname and Kalondra look very worthy advisories with both of them claiming impressive victories in their most recent outings. With Noel Fehily booked to ride Kalondra and Cyrname hailing from the Paul Nicholls yard they deserve a tonne of respect but it’s the youngest in the field Terrefort that gets the nod. Nicky henderson has a plethora of top talent at his disposal and Terrefort looks another with bags of potential. A ten length victory in his only run under Henderson’s tutelage he looked very green but with plenty of room to grow should take all the beating.
The second of back to back Novice Chases broadcast on ITV today sees our best bet of the day Vintage Clouds line up. Trainer Sue Smith has her yard cooking on gas and this former course winner looks to improve on his fourth placed finish. The addition of blinkers should aid his chances and with conditions to suit looks the one to beat in what looks a very close affair.
The horse that looks to pose the biggest threat has also won here at Wetherby before and coming out of the Skelton yard Captain Chaos aims for a trio of successive victories. The seven year old looks a precocious talent but this seems more competitive than the races he won most recently and will need to step up on those wins.
VINTAGE CLOUDS (WIN) - NAP
The penultimate contest we’re covering from Sandown looks mightily competitive with a total of eighteen horses set to lineup for this tricky looking handicap hurdle.
Flemcara looks to make it four wins on the spin after claiming victories in her last three outings but this looks a much bigger step up in class and although a place could be well within reach the likelihood is she’ll find this a very tough task.
It’s interesting to see top Irish trainer Gordon Elliot send over Folsom Blue who, at the age of eleven, may appreciate the two month break. He’s ran very creditably so far this season and has a decent chance if all things fall right.
Another runner worth mentioning at a bigger price is the ultra consistent King Of Fashion who hasn’t finished outside of the top four in his last nine starts. Baring in mind he’s only raced a total of ten times that’s pretty impressive. Now obviously this race is miles ahead of any he’s encountered before but if he can keep up the consistency he’s shown previously then he’s another where place money could be on the cards.
The horse that gets the vote however is likely to go off as favourite. I don’t tend to select favourites in races with so many runners however Topofthegame looks a very worthy market leader. The Paul Nicholls runner has been tipped by many as having the potential to go on to compete at graded level and after a fourth in a similar contest last time he looks set to improve upon that and go very close to ending up in the winners enclosure.
The Edinburgh National acts as one of the final trials for Aintree’s showpiece in April and sees the field tackle this marathon trip.
Bells ’N’ Banjos finished a very promising fifth in a very good handicap at Cheltenham most recently and this looks a slightly lower standard. Experienced jockey Paddy Brennan does the string and trainer Fergal O’Brien has his horses going well at the moment. Off a decent weight and on a surface he’ll appreciate expect a decent run from the eight year old.
If we’re looking for trainers in very good form we’d look no further than Sue Smith, Paul Nicholls and Rebecca Curtis who are set to saddle Delusionofgrandeur, Southfield Theatre and Relentless Dreamer. All three have very good chances and are the most likely challenges to our selection.
BELLS 'N' BANJOS (E/W)
The final race shown live on ITV from Sandown sees us nominate an outsider worth backing as Wicked Willy seems to have an abundance of positives in his favour. The notable booking of Noel Fehily is a huge plus as is a previous win over thiss trip, a preference for todays softer going and also hailing from one of Britains premiere stables. With only four chase starts Wicked Willy seems to have further untapped potential and at current odds of around 14/1 looks massively overpriced.
Cogry has been putting in one of his best season’s to date with a victory and a second placed effort in just three starts this term, a consummate professional who always gives his backers their moneys worth and is likely to be in the mix once again.
Final Nudge, Quite By Chance and former course winner Holly Bush Henry are all worthy of mentioning but it’s Wicked Willy that should award each way punters here.
WICKED WILLY (E/W)
written by Rory Paddock
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