Steve Hughes looks ahead to the best of Saturday’s racing in Britain
We have a spectacular day of racing to look forward to. Lingfield stages a high class All-Weather card, there is a terrific card full of quality at Leopardstown, but from a punting perspective the ultra competitive cards at Sandown and Musselburgh appeal most. Lord Brendy was placed for the each-way bet in the previous column on Sunday (SP 10/1).
Musselburgh 2.05: Miranda
Some speedy hurdlers on show here but this looks best left to the two favourites – of which marginal preference is for Miranda.
Twice a winner on the flat in France, she has run five times over hurdles since joining Paul Nicholls. Two of those performances were woeful – she was clearly wrong at Wincanton, whilst the heavy going and stiff track was against her at Sandown. However she has won here other three contests, all on sharp tracks and on going away from the heaviest of winter conditions.
A real strong traveller she bounced back to form at Kempton last time and a 9lb rise might not be enough to stop her. Ashington is a classy recruit from the flat but I have my suspicions he does not truly stay the 2m even around this tight circuit. However Miranda clearly does stay and I am sure she will enjoy a strongly run contest as this is likely to be.
Sandown 2.25: Good Boy Bobby
A fascinating Group 1 novice chase can go to Good Boy Bobby.
A bold jumping front-runner, I felt he was beaten as much by the track as anything at Cheltenham last time when making most until being outstayed by Mister Fisher up the hill. Whilst the finish at Sandown is stiff too, it is not as testing and this track will play to his bold jumping attributes more too. He does have a tendency to jump slightly right on occasions too, another factor in his favour going this way.
He had previously won chases around Carlisle and Wetherby and this intermediate 2m4f distances is what he needs. The biggest danger is undoubtedly Laurina, but she has not always been the most fluent of jumpers and her technique will come under maximum pressure in this grade and around this track.
Sandown 3.00: Ask Ben & Go Whatever
Two against the field for the biggest field of the day over jumps in Britain.
Ask Ben is building up a really solid profile over hurdles. He performed with great credit as a novice, his highlight being a second place in a grade 2 at Haydock. He was fourth in the valuable prize in November on the same track, only giving best late on. A fine second followed at Cheltenham last month. A true stayer I think this track will suit him as he can race prominently and can grind the opposition down around a track where it can be hard to make up ground in testing going.
Go Whatever is a fast improving hurdler who remains well handicapped. A good pointer he showed little in the autumn, hence a modest rating initially. He did however win a modest novice around Plumpton in November to display a first real bit of form. The main pointer though is his gutsy success over this course and distance last month, a huge improvement on anything he had previously achieved. He has gone up 6lbs for that but whilst he is on the up he could be one that keeps a step or two ahead of the assessor.
Musselburgh 3.15: Little Bruce
The diminutive Little Bruce is made for long distance races around sharp tracks and looks the ideal type for the Edinburgh National.
He has already won the Cambridgeshire and North Yorkshire versions and defied a big weight around Catterick last time, seeing out the 3m6f distance strongly. A 6lb rise for that win is not unreasonable. He is a natural front-runner as he likes a bit of space around him over his jumps and I don’t see too much competition for the early lead in a field slightly smaller than a usual National.
This tight track will be perfect for him too to build up that rhythm he found at Catterick last time, get into a lead and thus make it hard for the opposition to come by him around the tight turns of Musselburgh.
1pt win – Miranda – 2.05 Musselburgh – 11/4 general
1pt win – Good Boy Bobby – 2.25 Sandown – 3/1 BetVictor
1pt win – Ask Ben – 3.00 Sandown – 11/2 general
0.75pts each-way – Go Whatever – 3.00 Sandown – 11/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 5)
1pt each-way – Little Bruce – 3.15 Musselburgh – 9/2 general