Destiny Is All the Saturday NAP and two live 33/1 each-way chances in the Imperial Cup
The forecast suggests there will be a period of heavy rain at Sandown on Friday afternoon and tomorrow’s recommendations at the Esher track are based on soft ground despite, at the time of writing, conditions being described as a mix of good and good to soft.
The feature race on the card is the Paddy Power sponsored Imperial Cup and I have thought Balco Coastal held an outstanding chance on decent ground having looked to get outstayed over an additional half-mile in a Cheltenham Grade 2 last time. He is unproven on soft ground, however and was taken out of a Ludlow Bumper on account of the ground last season.
There has not been a winning market leader in the last decade, however, with three 20/1 winners as well as a 33/1 shock in 2015. That said Langer Dan was a well supported 5/1 second favourite when landing the prize for Dan and Harry Skelton 12 months ago.
My two against the field are Calico (2.25pm) and Lebowski (2.25pm) and, given soft ground, I will be supporting both.
Calico is ridden by talented amateur Tristan Durrell who takes off a valuable 7lbs aboard Dan Skelton’s 6-y-old which takes his weight down to 10st 5lbs. The selection has an excellent record on soft ground and finished fourth in the Scottish Champion Hurdle on ground quicker than ideal last spring. Taking his jockey’s claim into consideration he can race from a mark of 125 this afternoon. He can sometimes be a weak finisher but the 28/1 with the sponsors 6 places looks too big.
Lebowski represents the inform stable of Michael Scudamore who looked a useful novice when jumping well and scoring at Ffos Las and Ayr in the first half of the season. I am prepared to put a line through his run at Haydock last time when the yard were clearly out of sorts.
Recommendations: Calico (2.25pm Sandown) @ 28/1 with Paddy Power (Each-Way 6 places) & Lebowski @ 25/1 with Paddy Power (Each-Way 6 places)
Beakstown was not declared at the 48-hour stage for the novices’ handicap chase and a number of the runners would not be suited by the forecast rain on Friday. The Venetia Williams yard have been a bit hit and miss in recent weeks, but they are still getting their fair share of winners and I believe Frenchy Du Large (3.35pm) would be inconvenienced less than others if the forecast is correct.
The ew selection may not have got home over 3m at Lingfield last time, but he had won his last two prior to that run and is only 3lbs higher than scoring at Chepstow on his penultimate start.
Recommendation: Frenchy Du Large (3.35pm Sandown) @ 6/1 with bet365 (Each-Way)
There is rain forecast at Hereford on Friday too but not in the quantity as expected at Sandown and I hope to see Minella Buster (2.31pm) return to winning ways as long as conditions are no worse than good to soft.
Jack Wildman is excellent value for his 7lb claim but it was not his finest hour – gave his mount too much to do – when he finished third on the selection at Plumpton at the end of January. He had previously dotted up at Plumpton over 2m 4f and he is likely to be ridden more prominently this afternoon.
Recommendation: Minella Buster (2.31pm Hereford) @ 10/3 with bet365
Only five go to post for the 2m 4f handicap chase at Ayr and I will be disappointed if Destiny Is All (2.10pm) cannot break his maiden tag for Lucinda Russell. The selection had not been asked a question when coming down four out here last time over three miles and I hope to see Derek Fox make plenty of use of the 8-y-old.
Conditions are likely to be too testing for Victory Echo and course specialist Ardera Cross looks the main danger having won his last couple over the minimum trip here in recent months.
Recommendation: Destiny Is All (2.10pm Ayr) @ 11/8 with William Hill (NAP)
A horse we put up as one to follow a fortnight ago runs at Lingfield in the Novice Stakes and I will be disappointed if King of Time (2.21pm) cannot make it two out of two although he meets another promising sort in Aldhaja who made a winning debut at Southwell over 7f.
The selection showed a nice turn of foot – had to come wide to make his challenge – when scoring over C&D on debut two weeks ago and this gelded son of Kingman has the assistance of William Buick today.
Recommendation: King of Time (2.21pm Lingfield) @ 1/2 with bet365