- PLEASE NOTE: Wetherby Racing on Saturday has been cancelled
Sandown faces another inspection at 8am on Saturday morning but hopefully it gets the green light on what is a top-class weekend of action with Musselburgh and a mega-weekend in Ireland with the two-day Dublin Racing Festival.
Dolos beat First Flow at Sandown last year and it is very hard to get away from that level of form. It was a good run at Cheltenham over 2m 4f last time but now back over the minimum 2m trip at a track that he clearly likes, he gets the nod for the Paul Nicholls yard. Destrier is really interesting though, he is 8lb lower than when finishing just behind Dolos at Exeter last season. That was an eye-catching run at Warwick last time so keep an eye on the market.
Another Skelton runner, Shan Blue Is as good a jumper of a fence as you will see, he is lightning quick over the large obstacles and Harry Skelton will love riding him at this track, where jumping is very much at a premium. He will be able to just let him rock and roll down the back straight over this 2m 4f trip and I am really looking forward to seeing how he operates around here. Hitman will enjoy the step up in trip after his second place finish to Shan Blue’s stablemate Allmankind over 2m miles in the Grade One Henry VIII Novice Chase here last time. He will handle conditions very well and has to rate a danger.
Alan King’s Messire Des Obeaux has looked really good at Wincanton for both his wins and will handle the track and the conditions. Dame De Compagnie gets the mares allowance from the field, which puts her ahead on official ratings, when that is taken into account.
She won the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival last season and made a really good start to her chasing career at Ayr. Ground is not a problem and she will love the faster pace. She is the danger to the selection.
A couple in here with course form Christopher Wood won very easily at the track last season and has to be feared after a very promising run at Kempton last time behind Cadzand. Angus Cheleda takes 7lbs off his back too and that will help. The topweight Voix du Reve could be the danger after his neck second to Blakeney at this course on New Year’s Day.
The temptation is to play safe with Santini. I am not sure that Sandown suits him and that is a concern. Bristol De Mai is the big danger as the team behind him were bullish that they would win last week at Cheltenham. The market thinks that as well. I can’t see this ground at Sandown being anything but really hard work and that doesn’t suit Saint Calvados’ stamina concerns.
He faded badly close home in the King George VI Chase at Kempton but this will be harder and it’s hard to see him finishing strongly up the hill. He was keen at Kempton but if he switches off and relaxes in this race, has the class. Yala Enki will love the ground and is really consistent but the others have to falter though. The former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Native River continues on the comeback trail and the Tizzard stable had a winner at Wincanton. That was the first for a while so they will be buoyed by that. Lake View Lad is a huge price considering he beat Santini and Native River at Aintree. A really trappy contest but I’ll stick with Santini.
Dan Skelton’s Alnadam was very disappointing at Kempton on Boxing Day but previously was very impressive when winning over course and distance when beating Before Midnight and Killer Clown. He’ll handle the testing conditions too.
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Harry Fry’s runner Ask Me Early has only had four races under Rules and has won both of his chases. He races very prominently and the only negative is his inexperience against the rest of the field. Danny Whizzbang has burst blood vessels in the past and that puts me off him. Coo Star Sivola will be happier on this easier ground and rates a big danger.
Saint Xavier ran a good race when fourth to Double Shuffle at Kempton last time, but his finishing effort was tame. Dino Boy has no worries about stamina and he may be a safer win bet but I have to give Richard Hobson’s runner the each-way shout with Will Kennedy aboard.
* All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.
Mick Fitz’s Saturday selections
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