Saturday at Sandown
Our best bets on the card
Coral punters have an intriguing Saturday schedule of British and Irish horse racing action ahead, including a compelling card at Sandown, with a Grade One novices chase and Grade Three handicap hurdle the main talking points.
A dozen runners are expected to post at 2.25pm for the Scilly Isles Novices Chase, with two-miles four-furlongs mapped out in front of them. Trainer Nicky Henderson has won two of the last four renewals, with Captain Conan in 2013 and Oscar Whisky n 2014, both under the guidance of jockey Barry Gerraghty, and he goes in again with Top Notch this year, controlled by Daryl Jacob.
Nicholls onto a winner
We oppose him here however, in favour of Clan Des Obeaux for Paul Nicholls. Punters have had their fingers burnt following this five-year-old already, finishing runner-up behind Whisper at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, but there was little in it on that occasion, ½ a length the recorded winning distance, and that show came on the back of an impressive win at Newbury the start before, leading the second, Virgilio, home by 10-lengths.
Anything like the effort given that day will be more than enough to see him back in the winner’s enclosure. He appears to have been very well treated in the weights and I am having the improving Clan Des Obeaux, who has already scored over today’s trip, as my pick of the afternoon.
Geraghty to get the best of Behind Time
We target a quick-fire double with another graded contest next on the schedule, the Grade Three handicap hurdle over two-miles seven-furlongs. There’s a lot to get through here, with 15-runners expected to contest, but Behind Time leaps off the page at me as a shrewd play.
He was a beaten short-priced favourite at Newbury last time, but excuses can be made for that and I am willing to give Harry Fry’s hopeful the benefit of the doubt. The fact that he was so well-supported in the market that day is a positive and he has plenty of improving left in him.
Behind Time will be better for it and won a hot race at Cheltenham on his penultimate start, getting home ahead of a decent field back in November. There’s no doubt he has bags of ability in him, and if jockey Barry Geraghty can help drag it to the surface, he’ll take all the beating.
12.40 – Rather Be
1.15 – Grey Gold
1.50 – Buveur D’Air
2.25 – Clan Des Obeaux
3.00 – Behind Time
3.35 – Beg To Differ
4.05 – Druid’s Folly