The 1.50pm at Sandown is a race that was won by Bold Henry (7/1) last year – he runs again having contested the handicap chase at Cheltenham as a warm up like last year, finishing sixth. He is just 4lbs higher in this renewal, but this is a tougher test with Garde La Victoire (7/4) heading the market. The Philip Hobbs trained horse ran a good race over hurdles at Ascot last time albeit well beaten by Yanworth. Garde Le Victoire can take this and be a step closer to his target at Cheltenham which could be the Ryanair Chase.
The Grade 1 Tolworth (2.25pm) is a real puzzle as there are quite a few of the field taking a big step up in grade. Captaine (6/4) is clearly talented but he had things very much his own way up the front last time when winning at Ascot. If he is allowed to dictate things here he will make the others pay. Celestial Path (20/1) was a decent flat horse for Sir Mark Prescott and it is a bold shout picking this race for his hurdling debut, however with a small field it is not a bad idea as he will have a nice introduction. Finian’s Oscar (13/8) won very well at Hereford last time, eased down at the line he was visually impressive. He will serve it up to Capitaine and could outstay him.
The Veterans’ Chase is a great race and well done to the BHA and those that came up with the concept. A £100k race for horses that we have all seen run countless times is a brilliant idea, and now we have an ultra-competitive race where a former Cheltenham Festival winner gets the nod. Dynaste (6/1) finished behind Gas Line Boy (9/1) and Cloudy Too (14/1) at Kelso but this bigger field and with blinkers back on will hopefully bring out a better run. He was not far behind Cue Card at Wetherby in the Charlie Hall Chase and can produce something similar at Sandown. Loose Chips (18/1) has a squeak at a track where he has come first or second in four of his six runs. A little bit of course form makes him a nice each-way punt.
The last at Sandown sees a couple of horses who have not achieved what they should have over obstacles. Chocala (6/1) and John Reel (6/1) are highly rated on the level so could be well handicapped over timber. Preference is just for David Evans’ John Reel with Aidan Coleman taking the ride. Keep an eye on Discours D’Un Roi (4/1) for the future as he makes his first start in the UK for Nicky Henderson.
Over at Wincanton, Orbassa (9/2) is wearing blinkers for the first time in the 2.05pm. This horse ran OK last time out at Ascot and headgear could eek out the little bit of improvement required. The 2.40pm is an opportunity for Clondaw Banker (11/2) to show himself to be a better chaser than hurdler, and the same can be said of Wild West Wind (7/2). Trainer Tom George has suggested Wild West Wind might prefer further so Clondaw Banker just gets the nod. The handicap hurdle at 3.15pm is all about Above Board (11/4). This horse beat the smart Couer Blimey at Carlisle last time, with the danger being Trans Express (9/2) who won nicely last time at Exeter.