El Fabiolo (left) and Jonbon
El Fabiolo and Jonbon could clash on the final day at Sandown

Sandown Park jumps season finale entries and possible big-race clashes

Willie Mullins looks set to seal his first British trainers' championship title after Saturday's entries for Sandown were revealed.

Willie Mullins has a seriously strong hand in Saturday’s Grade 1 Celebration Chase. A handful, in fact, with the classy El Fabiolo and Arkle hero Gaelic Warrior heading a quintet for Clossuton in the £170,000 contest.

Potentially joining them in the line-up at this stage are Appreciate It, Dysart Dynamo and Saint Sam, although the all-important name of Jonbon – the 2023 winner - also appears among the list of acceptors following his top-class win over a longer trip at Aintree's Grand National meeting. Trainer Nicky Henderson has stated that he has the option of running at Punchestown next week instead.

Speaking on the Nick Luck Daily Podcast, Henderson said: "We are thinking we’re going to Sandown, that’s the plan at the moment, we’re just a little concerned he’s had to start watering quite early. As long as it is safe.

“We did the two (Aintree and Sandown) last year, so it pricked our ears to it again. Punchestown is an option but I’d rather not be travelling, as it would be safer to stay in England, to be honest.”

The Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Captain Guinness is another big name in the Celebration, with his trainer Henry de Bromhead also responsible for the mare Maskada.

Boothill, Editeur Du Gite, Edwardstone, Elixir De Nutz, and the Dan Skelton-trained pair of Nube Negra and Harper’s Brook are others engaged, while Paul Nicholls has no representative in the race he’s won a record seven times in the past.


Senor set for Oaksey test

The Grade 2 Oaksey Chase is the other feature race over fences on the final day of the season at Sandown and Mullins has a six-strong team entered.

Appreciate It has the option of running in this over two and three-quarter miles, with Asterion Forlonge, Bachasson, Easy Game and Topham Chase runner-up James Du Berlais also in the mix.

William Hill Bowl Chase second Ahoy Senor could get another big day in the sun for trainer Lucinda Russell, while The Real Whacker, Ga Law and Journey With Me are other names on the list of entries. Nicholls could rely on Hitman, whose most recent success came in a graduation chase at Haydock in November 2022.

Select field assembled

Mullins looks to have something of a stranglehold on the Grade 2 Select Hurdle as well.

He’s entered controversial Aintree Hurdle winner Impaire Et Passe (survived a Stewards' inquiry), along with the enigmatic Sir Gerhard, who bounced back from a Stayers’ Hurdle flop to win in style dropped back to two miles at Cork late last month.

Impaire Et Passe may face an Aintree rematch with the Skelton-trained Langer Dan, who ended up third in what was a dramatic finish on Merseyside, while he could be joined by stablemates Kateira and West Balboa.

Light bids to go back-to-back in bet365

The Nicholls-trained Threeunderthrufive heads the weights after a total of 28 horses were left in the bet365 Gold Cup. Last seen winning the Swinley Handicap Chase at Ascot in February, the nine-year-old is out to defy a career-high rating of 156.

Nicholls also has Enrilo and Flash Collonges engaged in the valuable handicap and they face a potential four runners for Willie Mullins, including Nick Rockett, who was beaten favourite in the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse when finishing seventh to Intense Raffles.

Minella Cocooner, Aime Desjy and We’llhavewan - an early casualty at Ayr on Saturday - are the other possible challengers from the Mullins yard, while Skelton relies on Le Milos, last seen finishing mid-pack in the Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Other eyecatching entries in the bet365 Gold Cup include Grand National fifth Kitty’s Light, who rounded out a stunning spring hat-trick in this event last year, having won the Eider Chase and Scottish Grand National en route.

The Christian Williams-trained Kitty's Light is Sky Bet's 7/2 favourite at the five-day stage after one of the antepost market leaders, Martin Brassil's Desertmore House, was taken out of the race.

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