Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with four to follow on Saturday at Sandown Park. View selections below
The win of Braavos at Perth on Thursday gave jockey Richard Johnson his 233rd win of the 2015/16 jumps season which finishes at Sandown today beating the tally achieved by Sir AP McCoy in his final season last year. McCoy is going to present what is a new Trophy to Johnson later this afternoon and the latter has been a magnificent ambassador for the sport.
Johnson’s brilliant ride from the front on Native River for Colin Tizzard at Aintree showed he was as good as ever and his first title is richly deserved; Sam Twiston-Davies will give Dickie plenty to think about in the seasons to come but, in the short term, Johnson deserves all the platitudes he will get after his Sandown coronation.
The race for the trainer’s title will go right down to the wire and Willie Mullins has a leading chance with Voix Du Reve in the opener but as long as the ground is good or better (overnight rain forecast) I think Ashoka (2.20) must go close for Dan Skelton.
The selection is fitted with cheek-pieces for the first time, is 18lbs better off with Paul Nicholls’ Tommy Silver for the 11 lengths he was beaten on soft ground at Musselburgh back in February. The Skelton yard weren’t exactly firing on all cylinders at the time, but are in rude health at present and today’s better ground will suit.
Nicholls and Mullins saddle five of the seven runners in the Oaksey Chase and I am surprised that Sam Twiston-Davies has deserted Saphir Du Rheu, in his first time blinkers, in favour of Wonderful Charm who pulled up in the Grand National a fortnight ago.
I just favour Valseur Lido (2.55) of Mullins last seen finishing second to Vautour in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last month; this slight step up in trip should suit although Saphir Du Rheu will be a tough nut to crack if the blinkers sharpen him up.
Sprinter Sacre (11/10 with BetVictor) doesn’t take much racing these days but he was back to something like his best when easily accounting for Un De Sceaux in the Champion Chase last time and cannot be opposed as long as there is not significant rain.
Six go to post and there is prizemoney down to sixth place with Mullins saddling Un De Sceaux and Nicholls three Dodging Bullets, Ulk Du Lin and Solar Impulse.
In the feature event I am sweet on the chances of The Young Master (4.10) who didn’t get a run in the National but is, arguably, better going right-handed and can reward each way support at 8/1 with BetVictor. Hadrian’s Approach won the corresponding race two years ago and is still only nine-years-of-age and at 16/1 he is another to consider in what is not perhaps a vintage renewal of this valuable end-of-season event.
The mare Vroum Vroum Mag has an 8lbs penalty to carry for her Cheltenham success and I just feel she might be vulnerable at 4/7; the each way alternative is Ptit Zig who is much better going right-handed returns from a short break and might enjoy himself back over timer; at 7/1 with BetVictor he gets the ew vote.
I think Junction Fourteen (5.20) could be worth an interest returning from a break; he looked very good over the larger obstacles earlier in the season and is only 5lbs higher than making a winning seasonal debut at Uttoxeter back in October.