Steve Hughes has two picks over Sandown’s fearsome fences on Friday
There are few greater sights in racing that to watch chasers in full flow at Sandown down the back straight with seven fences in quick succession. Friday’s action at the Esher track offers three races over the bigger obstacles and I have selections in two.
Sandown 1.55: Early du Lemo
I backed the scopey Early Du Lemo for his chasing debut at Chepstow last month and whilst I was disappointed with his finishing position of tenth, I was impressed with his jumping and with the benefit of that run behind him I am sure he can build significantly on that today.
A winner of his only hurdle in France as a juvenile, he finished a promising third at Cheltenham on his British debut behind Defi Du Seuil a couple of years ago. We have not seen too much of him since, but he was a good second at Newbury in the spring.
His size though marks him down as a budding chaser and considering it was his first go over fences, I thought he jumped brilliantly at Chepstow. He did look seriously in need of the outing though and gave way pretty quickly in the straight once getting tired. Trainer Gary Moore loves to run his chasers here and the fact he sends the 5yo so soon into action here bodes well.
Sandown 3.00: Fifty Shades
Receiving 15lbs or more from the opposition (before taking into account jockey’s claims), Fifty Shades has an obvious chance assuming he can handle softer going than he has generally been racing on.
A fine, staying on second at Cheltenham last time, stamina is clearly on issue to him and this stiff 3m should suit. Sandown has missed much of the rain this week, so hopefully conditions won’t be too testing for this 5yo who won three times on good going in midsummer. However he has not had a chance to race on softer over fences, so who is to say he can’t handle it.
He had a nice refreshing three month break prior to that Cheltenham run, so he should be in peak fitness for today and connections have gone to the trouble of bringing over top Irish amateur Lisa O’Neill for the ride.
0.5pts each-way – Early du Lemo – 1.55 Sandown – 14/1 general
1pt win – Fifty Shades – 3.00 Sandown – 9/4 general