The feature card this afternoon comes from Sandown Park and in the listed mares’ hurdle Silver Forever (12.40) – who was pulled out of a similar contest at Taunton earlier in the week – is marginally preferred to Indefatigable in receipt of 2lbs.
I was slightly disappointed by the selection at Newbury last time, but I hope the step back up in trip to two-and-a-half-miles will see her in a better light. On a line through David Pipe’s Queens Cave the selection has a bit to find with Indefatigable, but I do believe the trip is the key for the Paul Nicholls’ trained mare with Harry Cobden in the plate.
The 2m 4f Handicap Chase is a belter and I was taken with the promising chase debut of Mystical Cloud at Leicester while Mercy Mercy Me caught a tarter at Plumpton on his chase debut. That said I cannot desert Dashing Perk (1.20) who I nominated as my horse to follow last season but did not see the racecourse for over 12 months before scoring over today’s C&D from a 6lbs lower mark last month.
The selection has just turned nine, but I still feel he is open to further improvement over fences although I thought he showed a slight tendency to jump out to his left when making all here last time. Richard Johnson came in for the ride at the 11th hour, with Daryl Jacob having a spill earlier in the afternoon, and the champion jockey takes the ride again today.
Locker Room Talk was pulled out of a race at Hereford on Friday but is likely to try and make all in the 2m handicap Chase for Nigel Twiston-Davies. He won’t have things all his own way up front, however, given both Delire D’Estruval and Darebin are also likely to race prominently.
I hope they will help set the race up for a horse who will come off the pace and I hope Johnbb (1.50) will have the race run to suit. The selection – who is 15/8 at BetVictor – scored over C&D from a 6lbs lower mark last time and is taken to confirm the form with Darebin who is allowed 6lbs for the 4L he was beaten last time. A bigger threat is likely to come from Delire D’Estruval with talented conditional Luca Morgan good value for his 7lbs claim.
In the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle I hope to see Fiddlerontheroof (2.25) make most for Colin Tizzard and Robbie Power and give the yard a third winner of the race in the last four years. The selection is 9/4 at BetVictor and the form of his previous runs behind Thyme Hill and Edwardstone has been franked by the subsequent feats of the winners.
Son Of Camas (11/4 at BetVictor) and Silver Hallmark (7/1) look the main dangers with the former likely to be suited by this track given he showed a tendency to jump out to his right at Newbury last time.
The Veterans’ Chase is in honour of the admirable Houblon Des Obeaux who won this corresponding race last year but suffered a fatal heart attack in the void London National here last month. Smooth Stepper has only raced right-handed once in his career, but he showed a tendency to jump to his right at Warwick last time and I think he can reverse form with Evan Williams’ top-weight King’s Odyssey.
Venetia Williams, who trained Houblon Des Obeaux, saddles Burtons Well and he must go close having been freshened up with a six-week break since disappointing last time. My each way fancy, however, is On Tour (3.00) who finished third in the corresponding race 12 months ago from a 7lbs higher mark and is fitted with a visor for the first time. Richard Johnson takes over in the saddle with stable jockey Adam Wedge favouring King’s Odyssey. The selection is 10/1 at BetVictor who are betting each way 4 places on the big betting race of the day.
In the finale it is hard to oppose Gunnery (3.35) if he is in the same mood as when dotting up at Doncaster on Sunday and a 6lbs penalty is unlikely to prevent him following up for Nicky Henderson. The selection is 11/4 with BetVictor and will be hard to beat especially if the ground continues to dry out although he may not want the ground to be too tacky.
At Wincanton Book Of Gold (1.05) ran out a ready winner at Warwick from an 8lbs lower mark last time despite jumping out to his right at most of his obstacles. With that in mind this track should suit, and Harry Beswick takes off a valuable 5lbs.
Arrivederci (3.50) can break his maiden tag over timber having finished 7L second to Fiddlerontheroof at Ascot last time and I expect Jonjo O’Neill to make plenty of use of the grey who may not have got home over an additional half-mile on his penultimate start.
Jeremy Scott has his string in cracking form and at Plumpton on Sunday he fits Garrane (2.40) with cheek-pieces for the first time in the Sussex National. He just gets the vote ahead of the Tizzards’ Christmas In April who looked a thorough stayer when scoring at Fontwell last time.