14:00 Sandown We start todays TV tips on the Saturday before the greatest show on turf with a two and a half mile grade three novice hurdle. A field of eighteen are set to go to post with Aigle De La See for Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty lead the market. This horse has won twice in the UK, once over course and distance, both on soft/heavy ground. He needs to be respected but like most of these French breeds the better ground may be against him and is overlooked in a competitive field. Paul Nichols has been banging in the winners over the last eighteen Saturdays and he can add another notch here with Great Try. While the son of Scorpion has only won once over hurdles he has been ultra-consistent finishing in the money behind some nice types. In my opinion he has been crying out for a step up in trip and gets that for the first time today. He is ignored by Twiston Davies for another French bred horse but has ridden him three times in the pass and this is not a concern. Great Try has a massive chance to build on his recent win and is the main selection. He looks to have been given a chance by the handicapper of his current mark. Other horses to keep in mind are Monbeg Theatre and Mount Haven, but the horse I feel is overpriced is Chidswell for Nicky Richards. He has similar profile to Great Try but is double the price. The distance and ground will suit well and while he is high enough in the weights he is a tough sort and this shouldn’t inconvenience him. Great Try (E/W if 5/1+) Chidswell (E/W)
We head to the all weather for one of our two trips on Channel Four with a fast track qualifier over seven furlongs in a listed contest. Twelve go to post and Chookie Royal, he won a course and distance winner in this race last year and looks primed to go close again. However this year renewal looks a good bit deeper and I’m going to try get him beat. The favourite has a good few of these beat from last year.
Al Thakhira is a Listed winner from Ascot and has run well at a much higher level than this. There is no doubt he is the classiest horse in this race. My main concern is the lack of a prep run however Marco Botti will have her ready at home, she will be suited by conditions and if taking to Tapeta surface should have a great chance.
The fly in the ointment could be the French raider Quatorze who comes here with a win on the All Weather in Cagnes in a Listed event and I can’t imagine him coming here to make up the numbers.
Al Thakhira (WIN) 14:35 Sandown We move onto a handicap chase over an extended three miles with a small field of just seven taking their chance. The current market leader in a tight betting heat is Alan Kings Ziga Boy. He has a couple of unwanted letters beside his name and given his jumping hasn’t been up to scratch in recent attempts he is overlooked. However he will be suited by the better ground and shorter trip as he last two runs came over extreme distances. Kings Apollo has won his last two but in a better race of a much higher mark then when he start winning he is overlooked. Financial climate falls into a similar category having won last time out but he has a nice profile bar one blip on bottomless ground, he also takes a step back up to a grade that he has previously struggled in.
Ballyheigue Bay has won over this distance previously but looks a bit of a Fontwell specialist. The selection is Venitia Williams horse Saroque he is the only course winner in the field and Sandown is really a specialist course. He has finished in the prize money on all three times. This looks a weak race and paper and if Saroque gets a easy lead he can take some pegging back.
We go back to Wolverhampton for the last time and a Lincoln Trial with ten runners over an extended mile. Mindyourownbusiness has the services of Graham Lee who has beaten many of these at Lingfield. He has yet to run on the new surface at Wolverhampton. He has a great chance if he can recreate his Lingfield form as he had most if these behind last time out. While Melvin The Grate struggled off his new rating finishing well behind the favourite last time out.
Solar Deity has been hard to win with over the most recent couple of weeks but with the assistance of Ryan Moore has to be respected. With Pearl Nation also representing inform connections.
Santefisio is now fifteen pounds below his highest rating and has been running in much better races for the last couple of years. His last three runs on the all weather can be excused as he found trouble each time. He has a great e/w chance in a wide open contest.
The feature event next and the Imperial Cup, a max field of twenty four take on this handicap hurdle and its currently 7/1 the field. The Pipe team have an excellent record in this race winning it four times in the last ten years. Bidourey is the market favourite for them same connections and is currently unbeaten in three hurdles and a bumper. All of them have come on more testing underfoot conditions. He appears to be well in getting weight for age allowance plus a tongue tie first time he clearly has to be taken seriously.
At the prices however preference is for selections at bigger prices. The first selection will be Fascino Rustico who was still well in contention when coming down two out. He was very impressive in novices events on his first two this season. If he stands up, I would imagine the Skeltons will have really schooled him, he has to have a massive chance.
The other selection will be Barry Geraghty’s mount West Wizard. Now I know this horse is far from straight forward but I just can get away from the fact that he looks well handicapped. He has run into some very useful horses on his three current starts and is clearly well thought off by connections or they would not have retained him the yard. He looks handicapped to run a big race.
Arzal who beat the selection last time must have a chance, finishing sixth in the Betfair hurdle when not getting a clear run, however will need to find improvement. Calipto finished fourth in the same race but looked one paced coming to the last.
Finally ZipTop may have been given a chance by the handicapper and AP McCoys mount certainly ticks most of the trends for this race however I feel he needs to pull out more.
Fascino Rustico (E/W)
West Wizard (E/W)
The final race of the day is a Listed Mares Bumper and its a tricky contest and the market could be the biggest. Plenty of these have credentials but it could be the most telling that Willie Mullins chooses this race to introduce Babylone Des Motte. Willie is a master at bringing horses on from a long break and its not often than you see him sending over a bumper horse outside of Cheltenham. Given connections a chance is taken n this mare.
The other Irish raider is Whistle Dixie who represents powerful connections in Gordon Elliot, Gigginstown and Bryan Cooper. However the form of his last win is not working out at all.
Off the remainder the big stables need to be respected with Out Of the Mist could be the best one, he lost to Lifeboat Mona in a listed contest but on these conditions should reverse those terms and has a big chance here.
Babylone Des Motte (WIN)