Sandown closer to go Golan Way
Man On The Spot provides a preview of Saturday's televised racing from Sandown and Aintree.
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Son of Flicka won at the Cheltenham Festival in March but he's finished well beaten in two starts this term. Topolski continues to disappoint while Kasbadali is still 9lb higher than when scoring at Ascot in the spring and has been chasing lately. Arkose is on a hat-trick but has gone up another 9lb and drops in distance while Big Easy continues to creep up the weights despite not winning. GILBARRY hasn't raced over hurdles since 2010 but is rated 14lb higher over fences so may have been let in lightly today. He could spring a surprise here though Amigo could also be worth a second look off bottom weight.
Ballabriggs won the Grand National over these fences in 2011 when today's rivals Big Fella Thanks and In Compliance were also-rans and Hello Bud and West End Rocker failed to finish. The latter landed this 12 months ago, however, and Hello Bud was still prominent when unseating his rider at the Canal Turn so neither can be discounted. Ballyvesey finished a distant third last year while Swing Bill was pulled up, though David Pipe's grey came back to form at Cheltenham last time when beating a subsequent winner. Pipe also runs the unexposed Problema Tic, who was just behind Any Currency at Cheltenham on his reappearance, but JOIN TOGETHER may be the class act. The seven-year-old was a bit ring-rusty at Ascot last month but that was his first run outside of novice company and he looks well-weighted here on his defeat of subsequent National Hunt Chase hero Teaforthree at Cheltenham around this time last year.
Petit Robin was raised 6lb after winning at Ascot but Nicky Henderson combats that by putting up a 7lb claimer with Barry Geraghty taking the ride on Rebecca Curtis' Monte Cavallo. STARLUCK was only sixth in that Ascot race but wasn't far behind having being checked on the turn for home. The grey will strip fitter here and can have his revenge as the stiffer finish here should play to his strengths. Ifandbutwhynot has improved this season and should make a bold bid to complete the hat-trick while Dolatulo will probably be thereabouts again. Into Wain has been running on the all-weather and is preferred to Rowan Tiger and Swampfire of the remainder.
Sanctuaire's 17-length defeat of Somersby in a Grade 2 over C&D in April was a real eye-opener and he is capable of further improvement this season. However, he looks to be up against something special here in SPRINTER SACRE. Nicky Henderson's charge has won nine of his 11 starts under Rules and all five races over fences. His defeat of the smart Cue Card in last season's Arkle Chase at Cheltenham was simply breathtaking and he was equally impressive in another Grade 1 at Aintree in April. Already a hot favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, he should be too good for these. The others appear to be playing for places with Haydock winner Kumbeshwar preferred to Cheltenham second Doeslessthanme and the novice His Excellency.
Some useful chasers face the starter here and Nacarat's declaration means that the bottom four are all racing from out of the handicap proper, Cerium being a massive 19lb wrong in the weights. Tom George's grey, winner of the Racing Plus Chase at Kempton for the second time in February, could be difficult to peg back if poaching a lead while Tranquil Sea should do better back in a handicap after being outclassed behind Sizing Europe at Clonmel. Both Little Josh and Wetherby runner-up Gansey would have a chance on their best form and this is probably Rebel Du Maquis' best trip. CHANCE DU ROY was second to Always Waining over these fences in the Topham in April. Only a couple of pounds higher, he ran well for a long way on his reappearance at Chepstow and may be ready to strike now.
Any Currency is expected to line up at Aintree but Tempo De Cotte should take his chance and is surely better than he showed on his UK debut at Plumpton, though didn't have a great strike rate in his native France. GOLAN WAY is a bit of a law unto himself but he has undoubted ability and has won three of his seven starts over fences. He goes well fresh and may just be worth risking here with neither Fortification nor Major Malarkey exactly reliable and Lively Baron beaten off this mark at Bangor last month.