The weekend before Cheltenham offers up some good betting opportunities at Sandown, Ayr and Chepstow.
Sandown 2.40 – Rigadin De Beauchene – 2/1
Venetia Williams has rewarded followers of this column in the recent past and this particular horse did us a very big favour when winning the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick in January at the advised price of 7/1. He was raised 9lb for that success and ran a blinder from the revised mark of 131 in the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock 3 weeks ago, when he travelled strongly up the straight (hitting a low of 1.51 in running) only to be outstayed by the very well handicapped and progressive Well Refreshed (who was his conqueror in his race before the Warwick victory).
Rigadin has been raised 2lb for that effort and this looks lenient when you consider that he had the Welsh National winner Monbeg Dude 9 lengths back in 3rd and the well handicapped Mac Aeda further behind in 4th. Regulars of this column will recall that we were concerned about his stamina when he tackled the 3m5f distance at Warwick so we are not concerned that the drop back to 3m1/2f will be against him tomorrow. The rain that has fallen on the Esher track in the last 24 hours has completely changed the ground and it is likely to be soft tomorrow, placing a premium on stamina.
This change in going will be against most of his main rivals who have all shown better form on decent ground. This includes Time for Spring, Goring One and There’s No Panic. Alvarado has form on this surface but also appears to prefer better conditions, while Soll has not built on the promise he showed for Willie Mullins last season and can only be watched until we something more positive from him. Lively Baron should handle conditions but an 8lb swing with our selection does not look enough to turn the Haydock form around.
Despite his improvement coming on left handed tracks, there is no reason to believe that Rigadin De Beauchene will not be as effective around Sandown and a win right handed around Hereford illustrates this.
He still appeals as a horse that is ahead of the handicapper and with the rain having coming in his favour, he looks to have a solid winning chance tomorrow.
Chepstow 1.55 – Lower Hope Dandy – 10/1 or best early morning price
This Venetia Williams trained 6 year old gelding was very disappointing on his hurdling debut at Hereford in December when trailing home 9th behind Midnight Prayer. However something was clearly amiss that day and his subsequent 83 day absence confirms this.
The grey gelding showed very useful form in bumpers despite the trip appearing the bare minimum for him. He was 4th on his debut in a reasonably strong bumper at Chepstow behind the Victor Dartnall trained Tolkeins Tango (winner this week over hurdles), and subsequent winners Bladoun, The Mad Robertson with the useful Dunlough Bay in 5th. He followed this with a very useful effort in defeat behind another Dartnall horse, Seebright at Uttoxeter in April, when he was held on to for far too long and made ground late up the straight. He showed just what he can do next time when he finally got more use made of him at Towcester in May, when winning by a very easy 6 lengths. The more forcing tactics brought his stamina into play and although it was not a good race, it smacked of a horse with plenty of promise as a staying novice hurdler.
In keeping with the visual evidence, Lower Hope Dandy has a pedigree that screams stamina. He is by Karinga Bay out of a mare who is a half sister to the dam of the World Hurdle winner Iris’s Gift. Karinga Bay is a stamina influence himself and with the soft/heavy conditions that are likely tomorrow it is encouraging that is progeny have a 12% record on soft and 13% on heavy, which is 4-5% better than on other ground conditions.
The mark set by those with form is not that high with the highest rated being Cheat the Cheater at 120. However it is doubtful whether he could run to this mark and looks a horse that could go the wrong way. Valley Lad ran well in a handicap off 115 but disappointed last time and with Richie McLernon booked, he may well be having a sighter for another engagement anyway.
The main danger could well be the Jeremy Scott trained Moorlands Mist who stepped up markedly on previous efforts last time, when staying on very well behind Annacotty over 20f on this course, with the expensive Nicholls purchase Pay the King in 3rd.
Venetia Williams continues in excellent form and with the promise that this trip will suit very well, Lower Hope Dandy should confirm the promise of his bumper efforts and take all the beating tomorrow.
Ayr 5.10 – Island Confusion – 2/1 or best early morning price
The price will dictate whether this is a bet as it is very difficult at present to predict how the market will react to this Lucinda Russell 5 year old’s last time out win over this course and distance. His display built richly on an impressive point to point win at Cregg when he looked a horse with plenty of gears in beating Rockchasebullet by 6 lengths. Last time Graham Watters sent him to the front from the start and he never saw another rival to win impressively by 7 lengths from previous winner Fine Rightly.
It could be argued that he was allowed slip the field and as a result is flattered by the result and the 3rd horse home Cleve Cottage did not give the form a major boost when 3rd at Carlisle yesterday. The presence of Down Royal winner Ceasar Milan and an interesting newcomer of Nicky Richards could also aid the price and under a penalty, he could be viewed as vulnerable.
This does not look a strong race and we would view Island Confusion as a very bright prospect. At prices of 2/1 or better he looks a solid bet on Saturday.
Sandown 2.40 – Rigadin De Beauchene – 2/1, 2 pts
Chepstow 1.55 – Lower Hope Dandy – 10/1 or best early morning price, 1 pt e/w
Ayr 5.10 – Island Confusion – 2/1 or best early morning price, 1.5 pts
Profit/Loss to date: +19.95 pts (2pts outstanding)