After winners at 28/1, 5/1, 9/1 and 9/2 in the last four days, our seriously in-form team look to keep up the great work on Saturday.
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2pts win Mahler's Promise in 1.50 Sandown at 4/1 (General) - minimum 3/1
1pt win One True King in 3.00 Sandown at 9/2 (General)
0.5pts e.w. Mr Harp in 3.35 Sandown at 16/1 (Hills 1/5 1,2,3,4,5) - 14/1 Sky Bet 1,2,3,4,5 also fine
First race to catch the eye on a fine card at Sandown on Friday is the Betfair Daily Rewards Novices' Limited Handicap Chase. He’s attracted support, and It’s possible to argue the well-bred Halo Des Obeaux is well treated on his hurdles third to I Like To Move It at Worcester, but I think he’s flattered by that effort against a rival whose jumping was poor on the day, and a fall at Newton Abbot last time is hardly what you want to see when tackling fences for the first time, especially at a proper jumping test like Sandown.
I’d much rather go with MAHLER'S PROMISE, who has shown himself very useful over fences already and put in a smashing round here last month when only finding the prolific Minella Trump too good over C&D when a selection here. He’s a sound jumper of fences, who took well to this tricky venue last time, and I loved the way he battled on from the last fence to regain second close home.
I can see him going from the front and putting these to the sword early in the contest, but he doesn’t need to dominate as long as they go a decent gallop. David feels much the same as I do about him, which is a positive, and we’re making him a 2pt bet on that basis.
The Grade 2 Winter Novices’ Hurdle is the feature of the card, and sees a warm favourite in Brave Kingdom. The Paul Nicholls-trained five-year-old posted a smart time when a ten-length winner at Chepstow last time, but he didn’t have a great deal to beat, and he looks to offer little value at a shade of odds-on, for all he’s unexposed and in the best hands.
Harper’s Brook might have been a lucky winner at Carlisle, but Famous Bridge, back in third that day, came out to win a decent novice race at Ayr on Monday and the form seems solid. The Ben Pauling yard still isn’t clicking as often as you’d like, but Harper’s Brook certainly merits consideration.
At current prices, though, we prefer the claims of Lossiemouth. It’s a slight concern to see him dropped in trip after his Ffos Las win, and he clearly stays well, so it would be good to see Stan Sheppard going to the front on him and trying to draw the finishing efforts out of some, which appeals as the most effective tactics against inexperienced rivals. He found loads for pressure when scoring at Ascot and then made mincemeat of handicappers at Ffos Las, travelling very easily throughout to score by ten lengths.
The blinkers he wore there seemed to enable him to travel more smoothly, and he could be hard to beat if making this a test of stamina up the Esher hill.
ONE TRUE KING should go forward in the Betfair Exchange Handicap Chase, and that might make him hard to catch. We disagree a little regarding how much pace there will be, with David thinking he could be handed an easy lead. I think one or two others will go forward, but One True King has more raw pace than those, and has the class to bully his way to the front if required.
After a dismal first effort over fences at Perth, he was much better at Ffos Las, splitting well-regarded rivals to be second, and he would probably have won but for failing to see a stride at the first fence in the home straight having been committed early.
He jumped very well on the whole, as behoves one with plenty of point-to-point experience, and he should find this track playing to his forward-going style.
Al Dancer ran a stinker in the Paddy Power after carrying our ante-post bets and plenty of stable confidence (ouch), and while he looked like he could be made fitter there, neither of us view a switch to hurdles and step up to 3m as anything other than an opportunistic exercise. I think connections will be delighted if he falls across the line for fifth, for all market support suggests otherwise.
Pileon is probably the right favourite, given he comes off the back of a solid effort at Aintree, but the bottom line is that he’s a short price for a horse who hasn’t made the places since his second in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham in 2020.
Most of the others look pretty exposed, but MR HARP still lurks at the foot of the handicap and there’s definitely a handicap in him off his current mark. His form last year - a defeat of Saint Dalina at Uttoxeter and a second to the well-treated Imperial Alcazar at Warwick - is just about the best in the race and he’ll be a lot fitter after a pipe-opener at Ffos Las at the end of October. He has no concerns in terms of trip or ground, and will be played late, so even if he’s just running on through beaten rivals, he looks to have a decent chance of collecting place money, and is a tempting bet with five places on offer with the Yorkshire firms.
Published at 0915 GMT on 03/12/21
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