Altior is fast becoming the superstar chaser of our generation that simply frightens off the opposition and he faces just the four rivals from as low as 11lbs inferior to him on official ratings to 24lbs below his esteemed mark in the Celebration Chase at Sandown 3pm.
He isn’t unbeatable, no horse is, but Sandown is his kind of track. The real test of Altior’s impending greatness will surely come at the back end of this year in the King George VI Chase across the way at Kempton Park next December.
Saturday’s racing offering is varied and well up to scratch for the main betting day of the week, both on the level and over the sticks. As always the weather will play a crucial role in deciding the destination of the pounds and pence on offer.
The feature Bet365 Gold Cup Handicap Chase (still referred to by colleagues as the Whitbread Gold Cup) looks as tight as ever.
Of course you can make out a strong case for the novice Talkischeap who has always had this back end event on his agenda, while top weight Beware The Bear would still be a player, even off a career high mark of 160, if the rains arrived in time.
However, the conservative point of view would be to suggest that the ground will remain good and even slide towards being slightly quicker. That could mean that several of these hardy stayers stay at home and the field for the famous 3m 5f event becomes severely depleted.
So I am going to take a jump on my meteorological skills and suggest we lump on GIVE ME A COPPER under the care and attention of Mr Nicholls.
Paul rarely gives anything away when assessing his horses, but from some way off the Cheltenham Festival he was strongly suggesting that this very lightly raced son of Presenting was his best handicapped horse at the Prestbury Park spectacular.
That came off the back of a hugely eye-catching run at Sandown when he jumped brilliantly and only the lack of condition from the home turn found him out in February.
Ultimately his run at Cheltenham was thwarted by the soft ground and he faded tamely on the opening day, but if I have read the clouds being cumulus and cirrus rather than cumulus nimbus (forgive this geographical ramble it was the only subject I was slightly good at in school), then he should get exactly the ground he wants. The added plus is that he is 2lbs lower here and could be well and truly thrown in at the weights.
He gets the vote over big-race regulars, The Young Master and last year’s Scottish National hero Joe Farrell.
But there’s a cheeky threesome to go with him that could make into a tasty each-way Lucky 15.
On the Blind Side (Sandown 16.10) will relish the good ground and stiff track in the Select Hurdle and comes here a relatively fresh horse after just three runs this season. We know he likes the contours of the Esher track.
At a much lower level on the flat, Crownthorpe (Ripon 14.20pm) looks a seriously well-handicapped horse at beautiful Ripon following a sound run in Ireland and he has a nice draw in stall five. Course form is of paramount importance there and he has it in droves.
Jazzy J looks by far the most interesting on Saturday night (Wolverhampton 20.00) of the selections following an almighty eye-catching run at Dundalk last time out over 1m 4f. He was given, shall we say, an over patient ride by his young claimer and came home spitting fire in the closing stages without being put too much under the cosh.
I fancy we may well see a gamble on this lightly raced four-year-old making his British debut for Anthony McCann, so get ready for the pennies to roll in on him as soon as the PP traders unleash a price into the public domain.
*Prices correct at time of publication but can fluctuate