Jump Finale preview with Sandown selections
The curtain comes down on another memorable National Hunt season at Sandown Park this Saturday, so this is the Jump Finale preview from Horsebetting.com. Read on about the final races of the campaign, which include the Grade 1 Celebration Chase.
The card begins with the Novices’ Championship Final Handicap Hurdle over 2m (13:55). Framing the weights here is Flic Ou Voyou, ahead of Rockstar Ronnie. Neither looks particularly well-handicapped, and the same applies to Pasvolsky and On To Victory. The latter has won off his current mark before, but only by a nose.
Celestial Force was the early favourite, but it could pay to look further down the weights. In handicapping terms, ROYAUME UNI has great each-way claims. Gary Moore’s charge gets in here off bottom-weight with some clever placing with the benefit of the four-year-old allowance.
Royaume Uni meets Ascot conqueror Herbiers off 1lb better terms, and there’s just half-a-length between them. I can’t see the 12/1 with Betfair lasting about the former, especially as he’s also getting more weight from Pasvolsky and Flic Ou Voyou from their Kempton meeting. Royaume Uni is the each-way play here.
Oaksey Chase a race to watch
A disappointing field of four line up for the extended 2m 6f Grade 2 Oakey Chase (14:30). FRODON is odds-on because he’s 5lb clear of his nearest rival. That is Mister Fisher, a horse that I thought would go well at Aintree in the Betway Bowl. However, his jumping has left a lot to be desired in his other springtime assignments.
Born Survivor gets weight from both of those, but he has 23lb to find with Frodon on official figures. Militarian needs to improve by two-and-a-half stone based on his rating. The 11-year-old just isn’t going to do that at this late stage in his career.
Frodon should be winning this just down the road from his King George triumph at Kempton under regular pilot Bryony Frost. However, there isn’t much value in backing him at the odds on offer. Any Jump Finale preview has to be honest about that, and this is simply a race to watch.
Celebration Chase could steal Sandown show
In the Grade 1 Celebration Chase over an extended 1m 7f (15:05), Altior bids for a fourth success in the race. Things haven’t been straightforward for Nicky Henderson’s superstar over the last couple of years, however. It’s hard to begrudge this legendary horse one last moment in the sun, but aged 11 he looks vulnerable to younger legs.
PUT THE KETTLE ON loves getting up the Cheltenham hill, so the stiff Sandown finish may also be to her liking. Irish trainer Henry De Bromhead can do little wrong with his raiders this spring, and I prefer this gutsy mare’s chances to his other runners on the card.
We know that Put The Kettle On travels across well. She also finds more for pressure and is the joint-youngest of the seven contesting this. Her Queen Mother Champion Chase success is the key piece of form here. That being said, there was no luck in-behind her whatsoever for Sceau Royal.
He will love the ground for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede. Alan King’s charge has never beaten Altior, but this could be the day. Henderson applies cheekpieces to the beloved veteran for the first time, so that could have a positive effect. I fully expect Sceau Royal to reverse Cheltenham placings with Greaneteen.
This may come too soon for De Bromhead’s other entrant Ornua and Nuts Well, who drops back in trip after chasing home Fakir D’Oudairies in the Marsh Chase at Aintree. The Celebration Chase is too deep for Dolos, another course and distance winner like Altior and Sceau Royal. Put The Kettle On has the most likeable attitude and gets a 7lb sex allowance, so the 15/8 with 888sport about her looks fair.
Hedge your bets in Bet365 Gold Cup
I’m not crazy about the extended 3m 4f Bet365 Gold Cup (15:40), the big betting race of this Jump Finale preview this year, because it has cut up. The days of Arkle, Mill House and Desert Orchid carrying massive burdens to victory in this Grade 3 handicap chase are long gone.
My ante post punt, POTTERMAN has seen the weights rise dramatically. He has more to offer as a staying chaser for sure after unseating halfway through the Ladbrokes Trophy at newbury, and needs good ground for King. Prior to that, Potterman was an unlucky loser of the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton.
I still think we haven’t seen the best of him. Potterman carries 11st 9lb now, though, and you have to go back 25 years to find the last horse who shouldered that sort of welter burden and won. He is 10/1 with the sponsors now, but extra places are available with other bookmakers.
Wincanton conqueror El Presente meets him again off the same terms, level weights, and needed every yard of the trip to do so. Although beaten at Ludlow since, Kim Bailey’s runner perhaps faced an impossible task conceding 19lb to Checkitout. El Presente now meets that one off 7lb better terms with 8 1/2 lengths to find. Back up in trip, he has to be a player in this at 13/2 with Betfred for a yard that has done well this season.
Reasons to take on market leaders
Fancying the market principals is difficult for me. Plan Of Attack hasn’t replicated his form from last term during this campaign. Any Irish raider sent over by De Bromhead should be respected, however, and Rachael Blackmore comes to Sandown for the ride. No five-year-old has ever won this race, best known as the Whitbread Gold Cup, so Kitty’s Light has that to contend with.
Trained by Christian Williams, he has shaped like going up in distance will suit. I’m not knocking Kitty’s Light, who was a staying on third behind El Presente and Potterman at Wincanton, yet this demands more than the race he won at Kelso last time out. A 4lb rise for a neck success looks harsh, but the others didn’t get home and he did beat the Grimthorpe Chase scorer Red Infantry.
In strict handicapping terms, Bob Mahler has become well-treated. Of those at bigger odds, he could outrun them and into the frame. The downside is the poor season trainer Warren Greatrex has had. However, Bob Mahler is now running off 3lb below his last winning mark and won a race at Cheltenham at this time of year on his current rating.
It’s a bit of a punt as that was 13 starts ago back in 2019. His third to Mighty Thunder at Musselburgh, conceding 12lb, reads well as the winner took the Scottish Grand National last weekend. Bob Mahler is 25/1 with Unibet, who pay five places on this, off a 5lb lower rating than that effort here.
Henderson holds key to trappy Select Hurdle
Maybe I’ve got a soft spot for ON THE BLIND SIDE, but he has been consistent this season and thus appeals most in the extended 2m 5f Grade 2 Select Hurdle (16:15). A past runner-up in the race and one of two trained by Nicky Henderson, the ground is an unknown. Dropping slightly back in trip and down in grade may be pluses.
Like Put The Kettle On, On The Blind Side likes the uphill finish at Cheltenham, so why not try Esher again? His conqueror of two years ago, Younvercall hasn’t scored since. As On The Blind Side meets the other previous race winner in the line-up, Call Me Lord, on 2lb better terms from Aintree, the placings could be reversed.
Henderson’s other runner has only won one of a dozen starts since taking this in 2018. Pic D’Orhy was all out to win the Betfair Hurdle last year, so getting the trip here is no gimmie. Paul Webber’s mare Indefatigable hasn’t been in the same form this term as last season. The others, Captain Zebo and Clondaw Caitlin, have something to prove.
For the former, it’s winning away from Cartmel. Clondaw Caitlin needs to run at least a stone better than his rating to get involved here. On The Blind Side has the least question marks over him after running well on every start. That’s why bet365 are 9/2 about his chances.