0.75pt each-way Dodging Bullets @16/1, 15:35 Sandown

A fantastic season-ending card at Sandown today, with Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls out to scoop the biggest prizes and claim the British trainers’ championship.

The race of the day has to be the Grade 1 Celebration Chase won last year by Special Tiara, who has instead opted to go to Punchestown next week.

A wise move by trainer Henry de Bromhead, as the first and second placed horses from the Champion Chase at Cheltenham lock horns again in a big renewal.

Sprinter Sacre is one of the best chasers of all time and confirmed that in no uncertain terms by reclaiming his two-mile-chasing championship crown last month, with the odds-on Un De Sceaux well beaten in second.

He looks to have conditions in his favour again at Sandown and the only reason to oppose him would be this race coming too soon for him.

Now a ten-year-old – and ten-year-olds aren’t supposed to win championship races at Cheltenham – he might not be seen to his best given he finished so tired last month, almost walking over the line.

He was excellent on debut this season but, despite winning, he didn’t look as sharp next time out at Kempton at Christmas and keeping him fresh looks key.

However, trainer Nicky Henderson is rarely wrong regarding the horse’s wellbeing and him running here with nothing to prove can only mean he’s in flying form at home.

Un De Sceaux, whose career has been punctuated by impressive wins and frequent falls, had his limitations exposed for the first time at Cheltenham and the yard’s verdict on that defeat was he was best suited to softer ground, which he doesn’t get.

Whilst both horses have big chances, it’s hard to ignore the red-hot form of the Paul Nicholls yard, who bagged back-to-back four-timers at Ayr last weekend to wrestle back the trainers’ championship lead from Mullins.

He runs three tomorrow but the only one with a realistic chance would be DODGING BULLETS, last season’s Champion Chase winner.

This is just his third start of the season and, if the cloud has lifted over the Nicholls yard like recent results suggest, there are plenty of reasons to expect an improved effort.

He’ll have to jump better than he did in the Champion Chase this year, where he might have found the pace too hot, but we know he’s better than that and he’s got a chance on his best form.

Whilst his championship win last season has brought measured praise from what’s gone down as a lukewarm renewal, he still beat Special Tiara fair and square on similar ground to that raced at Cheltenham this season, and only a nose separated that horse from Un De Sceaux last month.

Tactically, Nicholls has a strong say in this race as it’s likely at least one of his other two runners – both massive prices – will attempt to tease Un De Sceaux into a scrap for the lead, so, along with his precarious jumping and the ground not going his way, there are plenty of ways he can be beaten.

At 16/1 I think he’s worth chancing – effectively we’re hoping for a return to his best form – and he’s preferred over Sandown specialist Sire De Grugy, whose yard’s form at the track has been red-hot in recent times.

The ground’s too quick for Sire De Grugy to be seen at his best today, and he’s had a long, hard season too.

0.75pt each-way Dodging Bullets @16/1, 15:35 Sandown

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