Good morning all,
The sun continues to shine in my part of Yorkshire. It’s a bit early but I’m sure I heard the faint sound of the first lawn mower in action.
This winter has seemed to have gone on and on and on. The freezing weather hasn’t helped and nor of course has lockdown. However, on the bright side Cheltenham is less than a month away and although it will be run behind closed doors, I think this year’s Festival will be something special.
I have already started looking ahead to the weekend’s big races. You can read my thoughts on one of them inside today’s main piece. Plus, I have had a look at today’s Sandown card.
Something for the Saturday
2:05 – William Hill Rendlesham Hurdle (Grade 2) (GBB Race) (Class 1) – 3m ½ f
Haydock’s Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle has attracted an average six runners in the past five seasons and hasn’t always been the strongest race quality wise. Looking at the entries for this year’s race it could be different. Not only could we have enough runners for each way betting purposes but the line up could be stronger too.
Among the entries at the five-day stage are last year’s winner and Stayers Hurdle 4th Emitom and last year’s Stayers Hurdle winner Lisnagar Oscar who would having his first start since a wind-op. Add in C&D winner Main Fact and you have the makings of a good contest.
The novice Mint Condition continues to improve and put in a career best effort on RPR’s when a strong finishing second in a Grade 2 novice Hurdle at Warwick last month. He’s yet to race beyond an extended 2m 5 ½ f but he stays well and goes well in the mud. He’s a fair price at 20/1 but trainer Jennie Candlish has gone 59-days since her last winner.
Trainer Olly Murphy could run Itchy Feet and Thomas Derby. The former just heads the ante post betting at 3/1. However, its Thomas Derby that interests me more. The 8-year-old got the better of Song For Someone when winning a valuable handicap hurdle at Ascot last season. Just the two starts this season. Last time out he finished a solid third behind McFabulous in the rescheduled Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle at Kempton. That was his first start beyond 2m 4f and although his stamina for 3m must be proven, his trainer thinks he needs this sort of trip these days.
I don’t know if he will run but the 6/1 available for Thomas Derby looks more than fair.
Selection: Thomas Derby
If you want the rest of my weekend’s big race previews and picks, spoiler alert, they usually highlight the winner, you can find them here.
Besides Sandown there is plenty of racing today. There are jump cards at Leicester, Fontwell and Clonmel and all-weather action on a bumper nine race at Chelmsford.
The highlight of Sandown’s seven race card is the Grade 2 Jane Seymour Mares' Novices' Hurdle (2:30).
2:30 – Jane Seymour Mares' Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2) – 2m 4f
Little River Bay heads the market and she bids for the four timer here. She’s ground versatile and stays 2m 4f. Plenty to like about her chance.
Little Mo comes down from Scotland in search of black type and the 9-year-old can’t be ruled out on her hat trick bid.
Harry Fry saddled the winner of the race in 2016 and runs Misty Whisky who won a Listed mares’ bumper here two years ago. The 7-year-old won her first two starts over hurdles this season before putting up an even better performance against the geldings when 2nd of 20 in the Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle at Kempton. I would strongly fancy Misty Whisky here, if her yard was in better form.
There are also three competitive handicaps worth looking at. None more so than the eleven runner 3m handicap chase (4:15).
3:05 – Kingston Handicap Chase (Class 3) – 2m 4f
Caltex looks well handicapped on his heavy ground win at Leicester 12 months ago. He’s struggled since that win though last time was a step back in the right direction when 3rd of 9 at Market Rasen last time.
One place ahead of Caltex at Market Rasen was Mac Tottie. The 8-year-old had previously taken advantage of a good mark when winning at the same venue on his previous start. The drop back to 2m 4f should be of more benefit to him more than Caltex although the stiffer track might suit the latter.
Mister Murchan made it 2-4 over fences when winning at Wincanton 28-days ago. He ticks the boxes marked going and distance and although he’s been raised 8lb for that last success shouldn't be far away.
Not Another Muddle won here over 1m 7 ½ f two years ago, off 2lb higher and wasn’t disgraced when 5th of 19 in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham a month later. Well handicapped on his best form but the 10-year-old has just three starts since April 2019 and didn’t look ready to win at Chepstow 40-days ago.
No Getaway, a half-brother to Grand National winner One For Arthur, ran with plenty of promise when runner-up on his chase debut at Market Rasen two starts back. Didn’t build on that performance when well beaten at Newbury 64-days ago. Drop back in trip looks a positive and he’s had a wind-op since last run.
4:15 – Littleworth Handicap Chase (Class 3) – 3m
Eclair Surf made all to win at Hereford two starts back. He was ridden slightly more patiently when only 4th of 8 at Exeter 39-days ago. Looks interesting for the step up to 3m, won a heavy ground point over the distance so has a good chance of staying.
Cuban Pete won both his two starts this season. He lost nothing in defeat when 3rd of 14 in a competitive Newbury handicap in December. Jumped to his right that day and will be happier going right-handed.
Skipthecuddles bounced back to form when 3rd of 10 at Newbury last month and has dropped down to an attractive mark. It was heavy at Newbury but the 10-year-old’s best previous form had come on better ground.
Highest Sun is only 1-9 over fences but he’s finished fourth on his last two starts in Class 2 contests at Newbury and Haydock. This is a slightly easier assignment but his jumping will be tested here.
Let's hope we can end the week off on a winning note. It's a toss up between Misty Whisky and Eclair Surf and I have just sided with the latter.
4:15 – Eclair Surf – 6/1 @ Paddy Power & Betfair Sportsbook.
Good luck with your Thursday bets.