As well as the rearranged Welsh Grand National at Chepstow this weekend there is a terrific card at Sandown to look forward to including a £100,000 Veterans’ Handicap Chase with Gas Line Boy 5/1 favourite at BetVictor having been raised 6lbs for his facile success in the Grand Sefton at Aintree over the National fences last month.
Two good jumps meetings today and we start our preview in Shropshire with Ludlow hosting a six-race card. The form of Look My Way’s (1.20) second to Act Of Valour who given a knock when the winner ran a lifeless race at Doncaster next time, but the selection is a 90-rated performer on the level and can go one better in the opening juvenile hurdle.
Indian Hawk won a point in his native Ireland and was sold for £110,000 at Goffs horses-in-training Sale back in May and makes his rules debut for Nicky Henderson in the Maiden Hurdle over 2m 5f.
The market will give valuable clues’ as to stable expectations for Indian Hawk but this should be the time of year for Thedellercheckout (1.50) who has form figures of 162 instead of 138 which was Keith’s magical and infamous checkout when beating Eric Bristow in the 1983 World Dart’s Final. The selection won a point on heavy ground in Ireland and ran a good race at Bangor last time when runner up. He is taken to go one better with Sam Twiston-Davies in the plate for the first time.
Henry Daly loves to have winners at his local track and has his string in excellent form – do note his Spider’s Bite finished 3l ahead of the selection at Aintree earlier in the season. Victarion and Peculiar Places are two having their first starts over timber who look nice sorts on breeding and should be up to winning over timber before too long.
Copain De Classe (2.20) is a dual winning hurdler who shaped with considerable promise on his chase debut when third over 2m 3f at Ascot back in November and this drop back to the minimum trip should suit in the competitive 2m Novices’ Handicap Chase. The selection would be something to bet on if the ground were no worse than good to soft but the hope is that he copes with conditions. Note he won a Bumper in his native France on soft ground.
James Bowen takes off a valuable 5lbs from the back of Sainte Ladylime (2.50) and that can prove decisive. The selection unseated over fences when last seen at Haydock last month, but she looks sure to go close back over the smaller obstacles. Ellens Way is 5lbs “well-in” on official figures after her Fontwell Boxing Day success but she receives just 1lb from the selection taking Bowen’s claim into consideration and the Kim Bailey mare gets the vote.
The ground is described as good to soft at Musselburgh and Irish raider Mullaghmurphy Blue must have every chance despite a 10lbs rise for winning over C&D last month. He would have been the selection on good ground but I am going to take a chance on Martiloo (1.30) who was still going well when unseating her jockey at Ayr back in November.
The selection has yet to prove she truly stays today’s two-and-a-half-mile trip, but has always been highly-regarded by her connections and the mare could easily improve for today’s step up in distance.
The big race is the £16,000 Kilmany Cup Handicap Chase over the minimum trip and I hope the ground isn’t too soft for Chain Of Beacons (3.00) who is 7lbs higher than when winning at Kelso in November. There is plenty of pace in the race with Mixboy likely to try to make all for Keith Dalgleish but I hope to see Callum Bewley swoop fast and late in a competitive heat.