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13:50 Sandown Today’s foray into the live racing action sees the first time ITV4 is set to host Saturday’s action and we open proceedings with a Class 2 Handicap Chase from Sandown. The betting market seems to indicate that this looks set to be a two horse race with favourite Garde La Victoire only having to worry about Hollywoodien and De Faoithesdream. That might be a tad unfair as I feel Bright New Dawn could run above expectations and at 10/1 may make a decent each-way alternative however sadly with only seven set to go to post it’s hard to go for an outsider with only the two places available. Although it’s an obvious choice I can’t see past the favourite. The Johnson and Hobbs combination is a tried and tested avenue for success and with a course victory under the eight year olds belt he has a great chance of defying top-weight. Garde La Victoire (WIN)

14:05 Wincanton Our first of three trips to Wincanton sees us follow in the same vein as we have another Class 2 Handicap Chase to contend with at our second venue. Orbasa looks to have a great chance and Harry Cobden has been on fire this season with an outstanding 44% strike rate this year. That sort of a race record for a jockey is staggering and any horse that hails from the yard of Paul Nicholls has to be given the upmost respect however the yard seem to have gone off the boil a tad at the moment and I have to look for an alternative. Crookstwon’s trainer Ben Case is doing well at the moment and enters his ten year old into the race on the back of a good second placed finish behind Chic Theater however he seems to have had a more prolonged campaign than most of his rivals and is likely to be troubled by runners with more improvement to come. I’m hoping that the form of trainer Tom George who has racked up a winning rate close to 20% in the past fortnight won’t halt today. Some Buckle hasn’t had the best of starts to his campaign after pulling up and then finishing seventh of nine at Ascot in his previous race. That being said he seems to be a horse that needs a few outings before hitting top stride. A step back up to 2mlie 4furlongs will certainly help and I’m hoping he’ll have enough to at least finish placed today. Some Buckle (E/W if 9/2+)

14:25 Sandown The big race of the day is the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle where Capitaine and Finian’s Oscar are battling it out for favouritism, priced at 6/4 and 7/4 respectively. Aside from the duo that head the betting I have to mention Celestial Path. A sixth placed finish in the 2016 Cambridgeshire is blistering flat form. If that sort of pedigree can translate to the jumping sphere he’ll be in with a fantastic shout, certainly a better shot than his 20/1 odds suggest. This being said however a lack of experience has to be a huge factor. Between the main protagonists I’m going to side with the Nicholls runner who, despite not being unbeaten, has already proved his ability in Graded company. A very impressive all-the-way win in his last race was mightily impressive and with question marks hanging over Finian’s Oscar’s full potential I’m hoping Twiston-Davies can ride this one to victory once again. Capitaine (WIN)

14:40 Wincanton Clondaw Banker was the horse I was originally going to side with however having not raced since April of last year his race fitness and how much he may or may not have improved is all open to debate and I’d rather side with a horse that is sure to be ready today. This reason is also why I’m going against the favourite Wild West Wind who also hasn’t stepped foot on a racecourse since April. The Tom George runner is certainly more consistent but he has question marks over him and has to be avoided today despite the fact I feel he’s likely to go close. It may seem like a bit of a shot in the dark but I’m hoping Paul Nicholls might have something up his sleeve with Favorito Buck’s. A return to racing in a hurdles contest was more than likely a prep run to ensure his fitness improved and chasing was probably always the target for the year. With fitness on his side and tackling bigger obstacles for the first time I just feel his double figured odds in a not too classy novice chase is too good to turn down. Favorito Buck’s (E/W)

15:00 Sandown The OAP’s take centre stage in this veterans chase that looks very tasty and is in face that race I’m looking forward to the most from today’s TV action. The “talking horse” in the build up has been Gas Line Boy and with good reason after his success in his last race. A horse that I have followed in the past but I couldn’t side with a horse with such short odds in a race like this no matter how good his chances may be. Rocky Creek was once touted as a possible Gold Cup horse and went off a reasonably short price for a Grand National. A horse who’s jumping is impeccable and you’re always going to get a run for your money. If you had to side with one of the more fancied runners I couldn’t really put anybody off the eleven year old. Theatrical Star has received support from punters however I feel this is slightly based on the fact he represents the same owner and trainer combination as Native River. I can’t not mention Dynaste who is by far the classiest runner set to line up today. Although the well loved grey is undoubtedly deserving of his slot as race favourite I just feel he’s had a slightly tougher career than most of his rivals and although his weight isn’t too bad interns of handicapping he may have deteriorated more than most. I cannot for the life of me understand how on earth you can get odds as big as 25/1 about Benny’s Mist. I understand he’s not shown all that much in his last two races but the stats are there for all to see. The horse has a 43% winning ratio when tackling this trip, the jockey has a +£7.25 with his rides over the past 14 days and trainer Venetia Williams has a 21% strike rate with her recent runners. No doubt the horse will need to bounce back to form and races aren’t ran solely based on statistics but 25/1 looks a liberty that I’d encourage all punters to get stuck into. Benny’s Mist (E/W)

15:15 Wincanton The third and final race shown from Wincanton and penultimate race from today’s TV action looks a very difficult puzzle to decipher. In all honesty it’s a race I’d tend to stay clear of and would advise the betting public to place small bets in. An argument could be made for backing the majority of the field with seven of the thirteen making my original short list. Bradford Bridge is still a maiden but top-class trainer Phillip Hobbs is hoping that blinkers can bring about the extra improvement needed as he enlists them on the horse for the first time today. They may well work the oracle but I couldn’t be 100% certain backing a horse that’s yet to find the winners enclosure. Above Board looks to have a touch of class winning two of his three career starts to date. No doubt he’s the one to beat but just how good that form is is open to debate. Obviously the JP McManus owned runner could do very well but in a race as open as this I have to look for a bit of each-way value. I’m hoping the value lies in the form of Fortunate George who’s unbeaten here at Wincanton in two previous runs at the course. A course and distance success has to count for something and jockey Daryl Jacob is on fire at the moment. A good jockey booking and a horse that seems to relish today’s conditions is definitely worth following if you can get an each-way price. Fortunate George (E/W if 9/2+)

15:35 Sandown Our seventh and final race we’re previewing today looks to me like a race for the favourite. Discours D’Un Roi has to be the one to be on. Despite the absence from the racecourse this doesn’t look above the geldings ability and has a fantastic chance. Noel Fehily is a jockey I’m very fond of and his ability in the saddle is often underestimated. Nicky Henderson may not have a yard with the talent he once did but never the less training a horse to win a race like this is far from beyond him. At the age of five he has more room for improvement than today’s rivals and Discours D’Un Roi has to be the one to take home the bacon. The horses I fear the most are previous course and distance winner Prairie Town who clearly likes today’s conditions but his inconsistency makes his hard to back. John Reel is a good multi-purpose runner and is mightily consistent so place claims definitely beckon and Alan King’s Chocala has to also be respected however his failure to claim victory in the jumping sphere is a concern and connections will cross their fingers that applying blinkers will bring about the needed improvement. Discours D’Un Roi (WIN)


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