Paul Ferguson puts up his racing tips for us on Saturday; Monbeg Theatre / Great Try 14:00 and Whistle Dixie 15:45 both at Sandown. Compare odds and bet.
Sandown stages a couple of high-class handicaps which should whet any appetite ahead of next week’s Cheltenham Festival, with both the EBF Final and Imperial Cup looking extremely strong renewals.
Aigle De La See heads the market for the former, but Monbeg Theatre (2:00) travelled best of all when runner-up to him here in late-January and he meets on 2lb better terms.
With the drying ground in his favour (hopefully we will have a dry night), Jamie Snowden’s runner could represent a bit of value, trading at twice the price of the market leader, who has admittedly won again since. A winner for today’s jockey at Southwell in November, the six-year-old followed up at Towcester and has been performing well despite conditions being softer than ideal.
At 10-1 (first show with Bet365) he looks worth having onside, with the firm offering ¼ odds to 4 places, but there are plenty of potential dangers.
Sidbury Hill could certainly outrun his big odds, whilst Chidswell will appreciate the track in my opinion, having found Fakenham on the tight side last time. It is not hard to envisage him travelling up well, but the same cane be said of Great Try who is worth a saver at 8-1 with the same firm.
There is a strong chance he will end up rated a fair bit higher than 125 and he is another who should appreciate drying conditions, if that is what we get. A useful bumper performer, he got off the mark at the third time of asking over hurdles and might appreciate the bigger field and more strongly run race.
Paul Nicholls’ Scorpion gelding travelled beautifully at Aintree in December and, while he may not come into his own until going over fences, he has to be of interest off his opening mark. The slight concern is the step up in trip at a track such as Sandown with a stiff finish, as I’m sure he still has enough pace to be competitive over shorter.
The Imperial Cup looks an equally tricky puzzle to solve, with market leader Bidourey bidding to follow the likes of Gaspara and Ashkazar, who won this as four-year-olds for the Pipe yard.
I have had this race in mind for him since he won here last month, but this is as strong an Imperial Cup as we have seen for a while and he has much more on his plate than I had originally anticipated, so the race is possibly best watched.
Fellow novices Some Buckle, Chieftain’s Choice (who hurdled fluently prior to falling in the Betfair) and West Wizard complete my shortlist. The latter has been much talked about over the past couple of seasons, but it isn’t hard to envisage him cruising into contention. The question will be, what will he find up the hill for pressure.
Later on the card, the Listed mares’ bumper is another cracking contest, in which Whistle Dixie (3:45) is worth backing for Gordon Elliott and Bryan Cooper.
Her form doesn’t amount to too much, but the manner of her victories have marked her down as a potentially high-class mare and, though she faces some equally exciting prospects today, she is worth supporting each-way (opened up 4/1 with Bet365 paying ¼ odds).
Copper Kay defied greenness to score on debut, while Nicky Henderson’s Robins Reef also looked good when winning at Market Rasen last month. Add in to the mix an unknown Willie Mullins-Rich Ricci filly, who impressed me on video winning her latest start last month, and this is a race to watch with the future in mind.
2:00 Sandown Monbeg Theatre / Great Try
3:45 Sandown Whistle Dixie
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