The Knot Is Tied features among Saturday's selections as our gallops reporter rounds up the fancied runners this weekend.
Call Me Lord (2.25 Sandown)
Call Me Lord can see off lightly weighted stablemate Dream Du Grand Val and the belated seasonal debutant Full Flow to win the Matchbook Imperial Cup for Nicky Henderson at Sandown on Saturday. The champion trainer will be looking for a timely boost with the delights of Cheltenham on the horizon, and this course specialist should run a big race despite top weight of 11-12. Fancied by some pundits as an each-way bet for the Champion Hurdle, he was never really a candidate for the title because he is deemed much more effective on a right-handed course and has underlined the point with three wins and a second on this course since his arrival from France two years ago. The defeat came in this race 12 months ago, but he looked a shade unlucky and comes into this race in very good form. He is sure to see the trip out in the likely soft ground, and looks a solid each-way bet.
Skandiburg (1.50 Sandown)
Skandiburg should be sharpened up by the fitting of cheek-pieces for the first in the European Breeders Fund Matchbook VIP National Hunt Novices' Handicap Hurdle Final. In a race with many unexposed types, he has been lightly raced by the ever-shrewd Olly Murphy, winning two of his four starts, both at lowly Fakenham. However, his latest attempt marked him down as a very useful sort. He failed by only a length and a half to concede 7lb to Trixster and that rival has since finished a close second in a good Ascot Handicap. A mark of 125 looks a very workable rating and his breeding suggests he should handle the mud.
Enola Gay (4.10 Sandown)
Enola Gay carries the same colours as Skandiburg and he should also appreciate the fitting of the same headgear for the first time in the Matchbook Betting Podcast Novices' Limited Handicap Chase. This race has cut up a fair bit from the five day entry, and this consistent, but slightly frustrating six-year-old, looks to have found a great opportunity to break his duck over fences.
The Knot Is Tied (1.20 Sandown)
Neil King has his team in great nick upon the soaring heights of Barbary Castle and he can make a good start to the afternoon with The Knot Is Tied in the Matchbook Juvenile Handicap Hurdle. The son of Casamento won a two mile handicap in the heavy on the Flat last October and has performed well with three placed efforts so far over timber. This demanding two miles in soft ground will play to his strengths and he may just have the edge over Gary Moore’s Twenty Twenty.
Newtown Boy (2.15 Hereford)
Newtown Boy took the notable scalp of Grade 2 winner Rouge Vif on this course in November and should make it two from three over timber in the Mansionbet Novices' Hurdle at Hereford. Alan King’s charge disappointed in a narrow defeat next time at Doncaster, but has undergone wind surgery as a result, and should be up to beating Esprit Du Large and Jen's Boy.
Victory Bond (2.05 Wolverhampton)
It's sunracing.co.uk Lincoln Trial Handicap day at Wolverhampton and Cieren Fallon has a good-looking ride for the boss, William Haggas, on top weight Victory Bond. Fallon's last ride for Haggas resulted in success and he's obviously a 7lb claimer to keep tabs on over the next few months. Victory Bond had a good time of things in 2018 with two wins and a second towards the start of the year, while his comeback run at Kempton in November wasn't short of promise either. He's on the cusp of pattern class and could be able to stamp his class on this handicap from a good draw in stall six.
Keystroke (3.15 Wolverhampton)
Keystroke did the dirty on his former handler Jeremy Noseda when scoring narrowly from Cenotaph on his Stuart Williams debut at Kempton on January 9 but he looks a horse to follow now back up to seven furlongs. He's proven over a mile (and beyond) and has a strong all-weather record in general. He's a strong traveller and Adam Kirby takes over the in the saddle.
Lethal Lunch (7.30 Kempton)
Lethal Lunch looks the sort to improve from a consistent three year old campaign last season and he should go well for Clive Cox in a competitive 32Red Handicap. One to note for the forthcoming turf campaign whatever he achieves here.