Pittsburg was a ready winner at Catterick when last seen, showing a marked improvement following a wind op, however the combination of a drop back in trip and a 6lbs rise will undoubtedly make things tough for a follow up.
Planned Paradise also has to contend with a hike in the weights, having been put up 11lbs for what was admittedly an impressive victory at Newcastle last month. This looks his optimum trip but the ground is likely to be softer than ideal so he is another who may prove vulnerable for win purposes.
With concerns over the above two, preference is for Mi Laddo who has been holding his form well and will appreciate the step back in trip having won over two miles previously and losing two places, going from first to third after the final flight, when attempting 19 furlongs last time out. He races off the same mark and should have no issues with the forecast conditions so he gets the vote to gain victory today.
MI LADDO (WIN)
written by Dean Kilbryde
Olly Murphy’s yard continues to go from strength to strength and Gunsight Ridge can provide him with another Saturday winner, making up for his high profile last hurdle faller last week. Gunsight Ridge has been placed behind classy opposition in both starts to date over fences and although he went up three pounds for his Exeter run, he’s open to more improvement than others.
The formerly classy Bun Doran is down to a workable mark but lacks the gears he once had, while Numitor has been incredibly consistent over fences but looks vulnerable. Top-weight Moonlighter is a course and distance winner but needs to reverse form with Bun Doran on their most recent clash at Cheltenham.
GUNSIGHT RIDGE (WIN)
written by Peter Keogh
Despite the soft ground this two mile handicap chase will still be fast and furious due to the nature of the flat sharp track.
Grey Diamond has been acquitting himself well in slightly more competitive races races than this. It does represent a drop in class, however that does mean he has to carry a welter burden (despite jockey claim) and he almost certainly prefers better ground.
Belle De Manech sits just below him in the weights. She is a big scopey mare who will handle the testing ground. She was a winner here on chase debut over half a mile further. The main issue is she is up against some seasoned horses here over a shorter trip, so will need to jump with aplomb to be competitive.
Another Crick has had two wind ops in quite a short space of time and that would be a concern, particularly on the ground.
Rikaboy would certainly have a chance at a decent price but has reportedly bled in the past, and once a horse has bled once they usually have a propensity to do it again.
So who does that leave us with?
Desque De L’isle is the answer. He ran really well at Ludlow last time, but was slightly caught for toe on the good ground that day. He jumped and traveled well until he was outpaced close home. Back on a more suitable surface he looks quite well handicapped under his inexperienced rider who takes off a valuable ten pounds. This horse is a sound jumper so he should give young Ned Fox a great spin.
DESQUE DE L’ISLE (WIN)
written by Matt Polley
This year's Tolworth Hurdle is one that many will be looking forward to as another chance to see the extremely exciting Constitution Hill. His performance last month over C&D set pulses racing amongst the National Hunt fraternity and Cheltenham looks to be his ultimate plan after today. He was backed heavily overnight and, in the lead up to the race. He duly delivered by 14 lengths after being shaken up after the last hurdle and scooted clear up the Sandown hill, a reproduction of that run should see him take this Grade 1.
The apparent main danger seems to Shallwehaveonemore a horse I put up in the PFTP 60 Horses To Follow book. He impressed when winning his bumper on debut, then was too keen on his hurdles debut and tired late to finish second. If settling better he could give Constitution Hill a race, amongst the rest they have a bit to find on figures but they do have more experience than the two mentioned.
CONSTITUTION HILL (WIN)
written by Michael Taylor
Apple Rock stands out as the most proven of these and his latest effort at Leicester is probably worth forgiving as he raced on what appeared to be an unfavourable part of the track. Prior to that, Ben Pauling's eight year old had performed with credit in higher grades and he is now back down to his last wining mark. Promising five pounds claimer, Luca Morgan takes over in the plate today and a big run looks on the cards.
Crossing The Bar has shown clear promise in both his starts over hurdles to date, most notably last time out at Ffos Las when finishing a fair third behind two in-form types. Formerly a winner on the level and rated in the mid-eighties in that sphere, he makes his handicap debut today and this type of trip looks about right.
Blairgowrie is another making his handicap debut and he represents powerful connections, raced just the four times to date, he has managed to return a beaten favourite on three occasions (Twice in Bumpers, once over Hurdles) though he almost certainly has more to come.
Getalead was fairly disappointing last time but had rattled off a hat-trick of victories before that, he could go well at fair odds although there are one or two with more appealing claims. Manvers House has flopped badly the last twice and is hard to trust as a result, judged on his earlier efforts however, he looks dangerously well handicapped and a return to form wouldn't be the biggest surprise.
Golden Emblem and Earth Business are others with claims but a chance will be taken on Crossing The Bar, who has shown clear promise and who appears to have been given a fair chance by the handicapper for team Hobbs.
CROSSING THE BAR (WIN)
written by Chris Connolly
The Veterans Chase series races are races that a lot of national hunt fans love to watch seeing older horses at the end of their career still showing their love for the jumps game and in this series finale. It looks an open contest and again some bookies (Skybet & William Hill) are paying 5 places if you're looking for some each way value.
Aso is the current market favourite and is a classy individual on his day but is carrying top weight here and I think he could be more vulnerable to a better handicapped horse in this race but cannot be lightly dismissed.
Sir Ivan finished third in this race last year and you would think he would be in the mix again Final Nudge won the veterans race at Warwick last time out with relative ease and providing handles the Sandown course is weighted to go well.
Wandrin Star looks to have a lot of going for him today and would be the first of my selections. Is the only course and distance winner in this race today and that can be helpful on a course like Sandown. Wandrin Star win last time out was at Sandown, winning well after a wind op which seems to have done the trick. Usually runs well fresh and that run was 2 months ago so Wandrin Star looks to be primed ready to give a bold show. At his current price of around 8/1 I certainly think he holds good value compared to some of the others at the front of the market.
At a bigger price Indy Five could have a bit of each way shout. Won the Doncaster veterans chase last time out with a front running display. Will run of a lower weight than last time out but this is a step up in class. So will certainly need to be at his best. But if he jumps well at the front and goes for same tactic. Sometimes the gap is too far for horses in behind to catch up especially at this veteran's stage of a lot of these horses on ground that will certainly be testing for sure.
WANDRIN STAR (E/W)
INDY FIVE (E/W)
written by Luke Tucker
Quite a complicated affair. The Paul Nicholls trained, Bryony Frost ridden, Mont Des Avaloirs has some good form but hasn’t been seen since falling at Chepstow in October 2020. Paul Nicholls has won this race twice and Mont Des Avaloirs has a nice record fresh. However, he’s never won at this Handicap and doesn’t have a brilliant record on this ground. Additionally, only one horse in the history of this race has won, when coming off a long break.
Stolen Silver was an excellent second, on his second start for Sam Thomas, at Cheltenham but found Ewardstone too hot to handle in the Grade One Henry VIII Chase, last time out. He’s been lumped with top weight but the challenge of that has been weakened slightly by Jack Tudor’s 3 lbs claim. The only concerns would be the ground and the fact he’s yet to strike at this level. Nevertheless, he’s a major player.
Notre Pari was promising on his return at Carlisle and there was excuses for his disappointing run at Cheltenham. He’s back up in trip, which will suit him, and he shouldn’t have any grievances with the ground. He’s won at this level before and he’s been treated nicely in the weights. Additionally, he’s been well supported, at the time of writing. Today might well be his day.
NOTRE PARI (WIN)
written by Kieran McHugh
Navajo Pass was winning the Unibet Hurdle this time last year but hasn’t really looked the same horse since and he is probably best watched until he shows signs of a revival although he does step down in grade here.
Hermes Boy will be the likely market leader for this contest having only his fifth start and his first in handicap company. His opening mark does seem fair however and this is very much jumping into the deep end against some very good and experienced horses so he doesn’t offer any value today.
The smooth travelling Mack The Man is a better alternative in my eyes. He has a great strike rate over hurdles, he won’t mind the ground, has already won over course and distance and this mark is certainly not beyond his talent. I’m picking him to give the great partnership of Evan Williams and Adam Wedge another winner.
MACK THE MAN (WIN)
written by Tom Bates