Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Sandown and Wolverhampton on Saturday. View selections below.
ARZAL (3.10) looks sure to give a bold account of himself in the William Hill Imperial Cup at Sandown. The five-year-old did well to finish as close as sixth in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, having been badly hampered around halfway. Arzal had earlier ran third to classy Jollyallan at Kempton and, with only four runs under his belt, there is room for even more improvement. His 7lb claiming jockey Paul O’Brien gets on well with the horse and drying ground will be to his advantage. David Pipe quickly followed in his father’s footprints by landing back-to-back runnings of this competitive handicap in 2007/8 with Gaspar and Ashkazar, then made it a hat-trick last season with Baltimore Rock. This time round he saddles improving Bidourey with very obvious claims.
AIGLE DE LA SEE (2.00) can continue his winning run by landing the William Hill-sponsored European Breeders’ Fund Novices’ Hurdle Final. His ex-French recruit made a winning UK debut when beating Monbeg Theatre over course and distance at the end of January, then easily defied an 8lb rise on deep ground at Ffos Las. The grey is clearly thriving for Nicky Henderson in his new environment. The Paul Nicholls-trained Great Try could also play a part, with Remiluc another to consider.
SAROQUE (2.35) runs the track well and posted a clear-cut success as a novice here 12 months ago. Venetia Williams’ eight-year-old made a return visit in November but proved no match for Le Reve, a useful sort on his day. Saroque will need to step up to the plate if his handicap career is to take off but this company is less arduous.
There is some competitive Tapeta action at Wolverhampton where CHOOKIE ROYALE (2.15) is fancied to follow up last year’s triumph in the Ladbrokes Lady Wulfrana Stakes. Keith Dalgleish’s popular seven-year-old fairly routed the opposition at Chelmsford City nine days ago, with Tom Eaves gunning him from the gate and having matters in hand a long way from home. Watch out for similar forcing tactics being employed in what appears a slightly stronger event. Andrew Balding’s Intransigent wasn’t knocked about from a poor draw at Lingfield on his reappearance and a bolder show is anticipated.
MINDUROWNBUSINESS (2.50), a good winner at Lingfield last time, is taken to follow up for Roger Varian in the Ladbrokes Lincoln Trial. The four-year-old finally came good after some solid efforts in defeat and that should have bolstered his confidence.
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