HORSE RACING: Leading pundit Charlie McCann gives his latest weekend preview of the top jump racing. This week the former Talksport tipster focuses on the cards at Sandown, Ayr and Chepstow.
Sandown stage a competitive looking card today with the Imperial Cup (3.05) the highlight. I have produced an online magazine previewing the four-day meeting; just log onto StanJames.com for all my thoughts and selections.
Twenty-four are due to face the starter in today’s feature including the progressive Qaspal in the famous silks of JP McManus. Get Me Out Of Here, Captain Cee Bee and Garde Champetre will all wear the famous green and gold colours of the fearless Irish gambler on the opening day of the festival and it will be interesting if JP gets his betting boots on this afternoon ahead of next week’s punting frenzy.
Qaspal has been raised a stone for his two recent successes but could easily be still ahead of the handicapper as he is still unexposed after six career starts. He holds engagements in a couple of festival handicaps next week and would land a £50k bonus if scoring today and at Cheltenham.
He must go close but marginal preference is for Pepe Simo representing Paul Nicholls & Ruby Walsh. The selection has been freshened up since running down the field in the Xmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Tchico Polos can be another winner for the Ditcheat team as he drops back to the minimum trip in the 4.15. The recommendation was no match for leading RSA Chase candidate Punchestowns last time but this looks an easier assignment although Show Winner merits considerable respect in receipt of 10lbs.
Meanus Dandy was a prolific winner in point-to-points but has disappointed since joining the Nicholls yard. In the famous Denman colours the hope is that the forecast better ground and switch to handicaps will see the seven-year-old in a better light.
Lifestyle(3.40) created a very favourable impression when scoring at Ffos Las on debut and she can follow up in the Mares’ only bumper for Nicky Henderson who last won the race in 2006 with Karello Bay. A lofty reputation preceded her when she justified favouritism at the Welsh track and she can maintain her unbeaten record.
Nikos Extra (4.50) was desperately unlucky at Southwell last time and the Alan King six-year-old merits the nap in the finale. All three wins have been gained on good ground on a right-handed track and he was still tanking along when hampered at Southwell last time.
Snakebite represents a yard who could be in better form and the grey has been a bitter disappointment since returning from a lengthy lay off back in January. The hope is that the step back in trip and better ground at Chepstow (4.05) will help although this really is last chance saloon for a horse I thought was going places as a novice.
There is a decent card at Ayr where I like the booking of Ryan Mania (great name) for Quito Du Tresor back on good ground in the 2.40. A winner at Musselburgh on his penultimate start this French import can land a Scottish double for the excellent Lucinda Russell.
There are four potential bankers at Cheltenham next week Dunguib (Tues), Master Minded (Wed), Big Buck’s (Thurs) and Kauto Star (Fri). All odds on but how many do you think will win?
Stan James bet:
6-4: 2 Winners
5-2: 3 Winners
11-4: 1 Winner
13-2: 4 Winners
14-1: No Winners
Have a great Cheltenham