Paul Ferguson has two racing tips for us on Saturday; Grand Jesture in the 15:50 and Wilbedragon 16:25 both at Sandown. Compare odds and bet.
The curtain comes down on the National Hunt season at Sandown this afternoon and, more poignantly, we bid farewell to the 20-times Champion Jockey, AP McCoy.
Sadly, McCoy doesn’t have a ride in the feature contest, the Bet365 Gold Cup, in which Grand Jesture (3:50) is fancied to go well for Henry De Bromhead and Johnny Burke.
The seven-year-old ran a blinder when second to The Druids Nephew over 3m1f at the Cheltenham Festival, jumping well in the main on the front end, before keeping on strongly up the hill after appearing to be slightly out-speeded by the winner on the turn for home.
The way he kept on offers plenty of encouragement for today’s longer trip and the son of Gold Well ought to relish the drying ground. At double-figure odds overnight (was trading at 11-1 at the time of writing) a big run looks on the cards.
In the same race Foxhunter third Paint The Clouds is capable of going well, too. Well beaten in the end behind impressive Aintree winner On The Fringe, Warren Greatrex’s 10-year-old will certainly appreciate the conditions, as the rain arrived just at the wrong time during Gold Cup day.
Unbeaten over fences prior to that, Sam Waley-Cohen’s mount is another capable of showing up well from the foot of the weights. At bigger odds Algernon Pazham can also go well off 10-stone, with the longer trip and better ground likely to bring about further improvement in Nigel Twiston-Davies’ novice.
McCoy’s final mount comes in the Bet365 Handicap Hurdle, in which his mount Box Office is sure to prove very popular with his loyal followers.
Jonjo O’Neill’s four-year-old steps up in trip and, while it would seem likely that his boss would like to send him in to retirement on the back of a winner, he is taken on at the odds.
Rayvin Black has been consistent this season and will improve for this sounder surface, but the trip remains a slight question mark with him, so preference is for Wilbedragon (4:25) who is a lightly-raced novice, open to considerable improvement.
Charlie Longsdon’s five-year-old looked a smart prospect when winning an Ascot bumper on his debut for the yard and, after a reasonable hurdles debut at the same track, the son of Kayf Tara easily scored at Bangor before beating a fair sort at Market Rasen in March.
The third from that race has franked the form by winning a handicap off 125 before finishing third in a competitive Haydock contest off 7lbs higher, so Wilbedragon looks potentially well treated off 131. His stamina needs to be taken on trust, but the smooth traveller finished strongly last time and is worth backing each-way at 9-1 (both selections should be backed each-way and Bet365 were best price for both on Friday evening).
As for McCoy, it is pretty sad to think we will never get to see him in the saddle after today, but I wish ‘The Champ’ the very best and hope he enjoys a pleasurable retirement. As for singling out one of his winning rides as the best, that really isn’t easy, but his ride aboard Pridwell to beat the mighty Istabraq in the 1998 Aintree Hurdle lives long in the memory.
3:50 Sandown Grand Jesture 10/1 Betvictor
4:25 Sandown Wilbredagon 9/1 Betvictor
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