It’s a moot point which race is the highlight of the Sandown card, with the 32Red Tolworth Hurdle the centrepiece at 2.25. However, at 3.00 the richest race on the card and the most populous is the 32Red Veterans’ Handicap Chase, worth a spectacular £61,900 to the winner, which will have to beat 18 others to land the prize.
A culmination of many qualifying events, this race over the famous Sandown fences should be a memorable contest and, at 7-1 the field, a difficult one to sort out.
The somewhat uneasy favourite is the David Pipe trained Dynaste, which has dropped a long way in the ratings since the heady days of 2014 Ryanair Chase, which it won from a mark of 169. In fact, that is the last race that Dynaste has won, hence the current mark of 145 and there is little doubt that here we have a horse in serial decline.
The key to the race may well be the very last qualifier, run at Kelso in early December, when Gas Line Boy won easing down from Cloudy Too and three more of today’s opponents, including the aforementioned Dynaste (7th).
Originally in the care of Paul Nicholls, Gas Line Boy had a brief sojourn in the care of Jim Best (say no more) before joining Ian Williams’ yard in March last year and has had just the four runs since, all of which have seen improvement on the one before.
The Kelso romp was achieved off a mark of 136 and although raised 9 lbs to 145, it must be remembered that, when with Mr Nicholls, this horse was rated 147 and the ease with which it sauntered away up the Kelso hill leaves no doubt that Sandown will be just the ticket.
At a tasty 9-1, an each way (first four) jobby will do fine for me.
The 32Red Tolworth at 2.25 has developed into a match insofar as the Bookmakers are concerned, with the Paul Nicholls’ trained Capitaine favourite at 6-4 and Colin Tizzard’s Finian’s Oscar second in at 7-4. Usually this sort of betting structure would throw up a value outsider, but, with only six declared, not this time, methinks.
Finian’s Oscar cost £250,000.00 (yes, really) after winning an Irish Point and recouped precisely £3638.88 of that by winning a novice hurdle at Hereford. Here we have the classic confrontation between proven ability and probable potential and I must side with Capitaine – any horse which can win, and win easily, a Grade 2 Hurdle at Ascot, giving half a stone to all but one of the opposition, is pretty damn smart and, but for the hoohah surrounding CT’s charge, we would be looking at a 1-3 shot here.
6-4 against?? Sometimes it’s a good price. Get on.