Sandown brings the jumps season to a close on Saturday, and while there’s not so much at stake in the trainers’ championship like last season, Nicky Henderson is out in force to get himself over the line. Title rival Paul Nicholls is also pulling no punches with plenty of runners, and the theme of the cards is both trainers mob handed.
Below are our picks for the action:
14:25: bet365 Oaksey Chase (Grade 2) (Class 1)
At the prices there seems no good reason to oppose MENORAH, who has won this the last three seasons and looks to have been laid out for this – he gets his ground too. Traffic Fluide is getting a lot of weight but hasn’t done much to suggest he’s the same horse after his injury, while Josses Hill doesn’t seem to be in the form of the first half of the season and doesn’t look much value.
Recommended bet: 1pt win Menorah @2/1
15:00: bet365 Celebration Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1)
Crazy that the Champion Chase winner is 5/1 in places, but Special Tiara should be no match for the mighty Arkle winner ALTIOR, who wasn’t at his very best at Cheltenham but won with authority regardless. Not of much interest from a betting perspective.
15:25: bet365 Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
Noel Fehily might have had the choice of the favourite Doing Fine for Neil Mulholland, but he rides his stablemate THE DRUIDS NEPHEW instead and it’s hard to pick holes in his claims for the feature race. A Cheltenham Festival winner off a 3lb lower mark and fifth in this last year when 8lb higher, he didn’t look to get into the Grand National this year so arrives here fresh and gets his favoured ground. Last year’s winner The Young Master makes up the final digit of Mulholland’s iron grip on the betting market, and he is only eight and races off a marginally higher mark this time – though after a crashing fall at Aintree he hasn’t enjoyed such a smooth prep.
Recommended bet: 1pt each-way The Druids Nephew @13/2 (1,2,3, 1/4 Betfair Sportsbook)
16:10: bet365 Select Hurdle (Grade 2) (Class 1)
The New One’s record in Grade 2 company is phenomenal and he’s got to go close, but he has to give 8lb away to Nicky Henderson’s long absent dual-Grade 1 winner BEAT THAT, who has the talent to make the most of the swing if still the force of old. That might be speculative but he was always a good ground horse, so gets his conditions and looks a big price to return with a bang. Well worth an each-way punt in what is not the deepest of renewals.
Recommended bet: 0.5pt each-way Beat That @20/1 (1,2,3, 1/5 various)