It’s after the Lord Mayor’s show with this weekend’s racing having been spoiled over the Christmas period where the King George VI Chase was the highlight with Kauto Star’s imperious success. Neveretheless there is some decent racing at Sandown on Saturday and thats where I cast my eye.
In the 1.35 keep an eye out for the favourite who has won this Class 4 juvenile hurdle in five of the last ten years with an 8.6% return on investment. David Pipe’s French four-year-old Kazlian has done well over hurdles since coming to the UK from France and should be in the mix.
In the 2.05 32red.com Class 2 handicap chase over 2m no prices are currently available but it may pay to avoid the favour.ite who have offered poor value in recent years. French bred Pret A Thou is no better than a workmanlike gelding but looks to be on a decent mark off 139. John Bryan Groucott’s horse made a pleasing return over fences at Wetherby, only headed in the dying strides. Pret A Thou is not without his quirks having sported cheekpieces in the past and would probably prefer further than 2m but is versatile on both firm and soft going. Champion trainer Paul Nicholls’s fields eight-year-old Hold Fast and he would be my preference. A lightly campaigned gelding he is also versatile on good and soft going though may also prefer a further stamina test. No world beater but could be worth the each-way money.
The Grade One Tolworth Hurdle at 2.35 had to be reopened having received only five initial entries but now looks a very strong renewal with Colour Squadron, Prospect Wells and unexposed French import Captain Conan taking their place in the field.
The Phillip Hobbs-trained Colour Squadron looks sure to put up a bold showing having handsomely beaten the highly regarded Montbazon on soft ground at Newbury last month.
Nicky Henderson won the Tolworth with Minella Class a year ago, and field’s the French import Captain Conan this time. This five-year-old son of Kingsalsa has a huge frame. A progressive performer over hurdles in France the market will be worth checking to ascertain his chance. Given his size, chasing will undoubtedly be his long term aim but he would be my pick against the field.
Prospect Wells was a beaten favourite in the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot last month finishing fourth, staying on strongly at the finish and cannot be ruled out.
Charlie Longsdon is undecided whether to run the unbeaten novice Magnifique Etoile. Having shown a good level of form in bumpers this strong traveller needs to brush up on his jumping but if the ground doesn’t come up too soft he rates a big danger.
The 3.10 Class 2 handicap chase is a very open affair but it could pay to side with Alan King’s Hold On Julio. A much improved pointer last season winning all four of his starts. Lightly raced for a nine-year old he is well regarded within the King stable and was a well-backed winner last time out at Sandown in a Class 3 handicap blot. Although raised 13lb for that win he remains on a decent mark and can go close again.