After weeks of hardly any rain, the heavens have opened, and the word ‘Soft’ is starting to appear in many going descriptions.
We are on the eve on the Cheltenham Festival, and many tracks, including Prestbury Park itself have been taking a battering from the elements lately which poses even more of a conundrum for punters and connections alike.
Sandown will be a thorough test of stamina, and expect attritional conditions at the Esher venue - if you aren’t part of the mudlark club, then don’t bother turning up!
1.50 Sandown - Henri The Second (Each Way)
HENRI THE SECOND loves the soft, boasts winning C&D form, and the Paul Nicholls team have a great record in this race. He will have the burden of top weight, but this future chaser is a proper stamp of a horse who can cope with conditions.
Winner of the Grade 2 Winter Novices’ Hurdle at this venue, a thorough examination of stamina will be right up his street. Harry Cobden takes the ride on the 6-year-old for the Ditcheat yard who are aiming to win this for the third time in four years, and he looks solid each-way material.
2.25 Sandown - Fine Casting (Each Way)
The big one, the Imperial Cup, looks wide-open and a case can be made for many of the line-up in this thoroughly competitive affair. In my view, it may be risky to get too caught up on weights and measures, and the ability to handle the ground will be the salient factor here. Ben Pauling is having a terrific season, and FINE CASTING has to be a major player with his proven ability to handle testing underfoot conditions.
Two of his four career wins have come on ground described as Heavy, and he has winning form over much further which will clearly be of big benefit here. He isn’t totally devoid of pace either, so it wouldn’t be a shock if he were to run well, dropping down in trip with everything in his favour. Luca Morgan takes the ride on the 7-year-old who has solid each-way claims.
3.35 Sandown - Lac De Constance
LAC DE CONSTANCE was called a few names after being turned over as 4/9f at Exeter last month, but has ample opportunity to put the record straight here.
The Dan Skelton charge didn’t jump all that well on much quicker ground than ideal at the West Country venue last time out in a disappointing run. However, this unexposed sort will be much happier with underfoot conditions here and if he can get back to the same form which saw him thump Hudson De Grugy by 20 lengths at Kempton at the back end of last year.
Harry Skelton takes the ride on this quirky individual who can bounce back to winning ways here.
I will be back next week with daily previews for the Cheltenham Festival, where we hopefully smash in some good value winners for the week!
- Henri The Second, 1.50 Sandown, 0.5pts e/w 15/2 William Hill 5 places
- Fine Casting, 2.25 Sandown, 0.5pts e/w 16/1 Paddy Power 6 places
- Lac De Constance, 3.35 Sandown, 1pt win 11/2 William Hill
* Betting odds correct at the time of publication. All odds are subject to changes.
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