Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up four tips on Saturday at Aintree and Sandown. View selections below.
JUMP racing fans can sit down to a veritable feast of mouthwatering action this weekend, with a fascinating head-to-head between SPRINTER SACRE (3.05) and Sanctuaire in the Sportingbet Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown the perfect hors d’oeuvre for a fascinating renewal of the John Durkan Memorial Chase in Ireland 24 hours later.
Top novice Sprinter Sacre, unbeaten in all five races last season for Nicky Henderson, has been set a tough assignment on his comeback run, with course specialist Sanctuaire rated only a couple of lengths inferior. Paul Nicholls has mopped up this white-knuckle two-mile chase with the likes of Kauto Star, Master Minded, Twist Magic, Cenkos and Flagship Uberalles, and Sanctuaire must not be underestimated. The six-year-old hammered Somersby by 17 lengths here in April but his headstrong style of racing may only serve to set up the finish for Barry Geraghty to pounce on Sprinter Sacre. Geraghty enjoyed some great times in this race riding Moscow Flyer and sounds fairly confident in his pre-race comments.
Geraghty has another tasty mount for Nicky Henderson aboard CAPTAIN CONAN (1.55) in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase. His task has been made easier following the disappointing defection of Overturn and Captain Conan was foot-perfect on his chasing debut at Cheltenham’s Paddy Power fixture three weeks ago.
The punter-friendly Henderson-Geraghty team can kick off the meeting in winning fashion with GOLDEN HOOF (12.20) bidding to defy a penalty for a hurdling debut success in the colours of Lee Westwood.
At Aintree, West End Rocker bids to emulate last year’s crushing victory in the Betfred Becher Chase. Alan King’s relentless galloper is only 5lb higher and will be sharper for a recent spin at Wincanton.
On a cautionary note, he fell at the second fence in the Grand National and that might be at the back of his mind. Donald McCain saddles 2011 Grand National hero Ballabriggs under top weight, while Big Fella Thanks is another meriting respect. The one to be on could be JOIN TOGETHER (2.10). Paul Nicholls’ second-season chaser finished third to Silviniaco Conti and Champion Court here over the Mildmay fences in April and is open to more improvement.
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