The 2021/22 National Hunt season in Britain draws to a close at Sandown Park on Saturday afternoon, the highlight, from a betting perspective, being the bet365 Gold Cup at 3.32pm, still referred to by those of a certain age as ‘The Whitbread.’
We will provide a horse racing tip for this famous 3m 5f handicap (where the ground is described as Good, Good to firm in places) together with the other five races covered by ITV cameras, another three from the Esher racecourse and one apiece from Haydock and Leicester.
“Tip of the Day” – Nube Negra (3.00pm Sandown) – 6/4 with Coral
This Grade 1 chase has been the target for Dan Skelton’s talented performer for some time and with conditions to suit is fancied to record his first victory at the highest level.
1.50pm Sandown. 2m
A wide-open opener for this novices’ championship final handicap hurdle with many of the big stables having at least one runner, including top weight Knappers Hill for Paul Nicholls. Trainer Gary Moore always does well at this meeting and it could be worth taking a chance on his ex French recruit PRIVATORY who races off an attractive mark of 120.
A winner at Cagnes-Sur Mer on his only start for David Cottin before joining Moore last month, the son of Motivator lost little time in getting off the mark for connections with a win over today’s course and distance. Slightly disappointing when runner-up at Stratford on his most recent start, the mount of Jamie Moore is clearly better than that effort would suggest and with only 10st 4lb to carry can make the most of the weight he receives from some better fancied rivals.
2.05pm Haydock. 7f
Absent for almost two years, it is hard to know what to expect from multiple Group winner and top weight Sir Dancealot, now in the care of trainer John Butler. The hat-trick-seeking Alrehb has his first run on turf and would be a danger to all if taking to the surface. But following a narrow defeat on Kempton’s all-weather surface last month, the Marco Botti-trained SILVER SAMURAI looks sure to run a big race.
The grey son of Cable Bay went down by just half a length in a big field York handicap over this distance last September and a similar effort should see the mount of Neil Callan make the frame at the very least.
2.25pm Sandown. 2m 6 1/2f
It’s hard to know why this Grade 2 contest has managed to attract a field of only four runners with some decent prize money on offer. The likely fast conditions must be the main reason but when you consider that all of the contenders disappointed last time out, the first prize of over £45k appears there for the taking.
Mister Fisher will handle the ground but like Saint Calvados it is hard to know what to expect from the disappointing pair. Scottish raider Nuts well has been a wonderful servant for trainer Ann Hamilton but the 11-year-old had his limitations exposed at Aintree earlier this month when beaten 33 lengths behind Clan Des Obeaux.
This leaves the talented novice ERNE RIVER as the most interesting contender of the quartet. Hugely impressive in winning his first two chases at Doncaster and Wetherby, Nick Kent’s charge fell when still in with every chance at Aintree in a Grade 1 at the Grand National meeting. Providing that race has not left its mark, Charlie Hammond’s mount can gain some compensation here in a race that is there for the taking.
2.45pm Leicester. 7f
Another disappointing turnout of only four for this seven furlong Listed race, headed by favourite Path Of Thunder from the in-form Charlie Appleby stable. The mount of William Buick has been running with credit in Meydan and is hard to dismiss. But the Clive Cox-trained ARATUS, unbeaten in four starts since making his debut when runner-up at Newbury in September 2020, is expected to cope with the step-up in class.
The lightly-raced son of Free Eagle was gelded towards the back-end of last year and has the scope to develop into a Group performer this season.
3.00pm Sandown. 1m 7 1/2f
With Rouge Vif and Sky Pirate looking a bit outclassed in this company and Tingle Creek winner Greaneteen coming into the race on the back of a 74 length defeat at Leopardstown in February, this Grade 1 could be fought-out by NUBE NEGRA and Sceau Royal.
The latter is more than capable of winning this at his very best but the fact that Dan Skelton’s charge bypassed the Champion Chase at the festival due to the change in the ground could prove a blessing in disguise for the mount of Harry Skelton.
When things fall right, the eight-year-old can produce a lethal turn-of-foot, as was the case when beating Altior at Kempton in late December 2020 and when quickening clear of Politologue and Put The Kettle On at Cheltenham last November.
Conditions look perfect for a similar performance on this occasion and the gelding is fancied to record his first Grade 1 victory.
3.32pm Sandown. 3m 5f
Not the strongest renewal of this famous staying handicap chase which provides a great opportunity for the Christian Williams stable to record yet another victory to go with that of the Coral Trophy, Eider Chase and Scottish Grand National this season.
Those three races went the way of Win My Wings (Eider and Scottish National) and Cap Du Nord. But this could be the turn of KITTY’S LIGHT (unlucky not to have won the race 12 months ago) who has twice had to settle for minor honours behind his stablemates. Today’s weights favour Jack Tudor’s mount who will also relish the ground and trip.
Of the opposition, last year’s disqualified winner Enrilo and the improving Flegmatik, who attempts this kind of trip for the first time, are feared most.
* Betting odds correct at the time of writing. Subject to changes.