Great Ocean to land the Tuesday nap at Sandown
Soft ground for this afternoon’s Grand Military Gold Cup – when was the meeting switched from a Friday? – card at Sandown and, with a light frost and dry day forecast, conditions are likely to be holding and extremely tacky.
In the handicap hurdle named in honour of The Queen Mother Purple King will win races on better ground this spring, but I do feel this is Great Ocean’s (2.20pm) race to lose for Philip Hobbs and Major Charlie O’Shea.
The selection got off the mark at the third time of asking over hurdles when a fluent 5L winner at Wincanton last month, having previously had the third 11L back when no match for Lac De Constance at Exeter. The latter has since won a listed contest back at the Devon track and is held in some regard by the Skelton team.
The selection’s winning point-to-point form in Ireland is nothing special and he is hardly one of the stable stars, but I do feel connections have found a very winnable race for his handicap debut.
Recommendation: Great Ocean (2.20pm Sandown) at Evens with William Hill
Another Crick has been put in as market leader for the 2m handicap chase, but I see no reason why he should reverse recent Newbury form with Doukarov (2.55pm) who finished 10L in front of Another Crick at the Berkshire track and they meet on identical terms.
The selection can often front run, but I would not like to see conditional jockey Jack Wildman get embroiled in a battle for the lead with Galop De Chasse. The latter folded tamely at Huntingdon last time finishing last of three, but he wouldn’t be the first Venetia Williams’ trained horse to bounce back from a moderate run. He represents a big danger but the 9/2 for Doukarov looks attractive.
Recommendation: Doukarov (2.55pm Sandown) @ 9/2 with William Hill
Ballycross is 5lbs better off with Rolling Dylan (3.30pm) for the near 6L he was behind the selection in the Royal Artillery Gold Cup when he was never seriously put into the race. That was his best run for a while, however, and he has a course win to his name over timber. That said I hope to see Rolling Dylan land the Royal Artillery/Grand Military double.
The selection was always in control of his race here last month when he made most although he is likely to get a good tow into the race today with Eregon De Chanay likely to go hard from the front. I hope he helps set the race up for the Hobbs’ trained 11-year-old.
Recommendation: Rolling Dylan (3.30pm Sandown) @ Evens with bet365
The ground was given as good to soft at Newcastle on Monday morning with a dry forecast ahead of today’s card. I am loath to desert Bavington Bob who has served us so well in recent weeks, but he is another 5lbs higher than when scoring at Carlisle last time and marginal preference is for The Ferry Master (3.15pm) who will certainly appreciate this better ground.
Sandy Thompson – who has gone 14 runners since his last winner – has given his 9-y-old a wind operation since he was last seen at Wetherby on Boxing Day, and he has dropped to a mark 7lbs lower than when finishing fourth in the Scottish National last spring. Bavington Bob is no mudlark and is also proven on good ground, but at 4/1 I do feel The Ferry Master looks a fair price against the odds on favourite.
Recommendation: The Ferry Master (3.15pm Newcastle) @ 4/1 with William Hill
The form of Greatest Star’s (3.50pm) third at Warwick last time on ground softer than ideal has been franked by the winner and third and the grey, who is a fast fluent jumper of his hurdles, will appreciate today’s better ground and gets the each way vote for Dan and Harry Skelton.
The 6-y-old had previously scored at Southwell back in November on good ground and after just three career starts over timber, he is open to further improvement. He is certainly in the right hands to do so.
Recommendation: Greatest Star (3.50pm Newcastle) @ at 4/1 with William Hill (Each-Way)