Arthur’s Oak to go one better at Sandown
5 February 2016
Saturday is one of those days where I’ll be disappointed if I don’t have a winner, but I am hard pushed to tell you which one it will be.
I have four very decent rides at Sandown; all with a similar chance. If I had to pick one, it would be Arthur’s Oak, who runs in the Betfred Handicap Chase. But it’s a tough call.
I’d pick him on the strength of his second to Bold Henry at Sandown last month. The winner had some patches of very good form, including when winning at The Open in 2014, and showed he was back to his best that day.
He’s been put up 5lb for that on top of a 15lb rise for his previous win at Haydock, so the handicapper has taken no chances with him. If he’d been kinder I would be very enthusiastic. However, he is still improving and has a definite chance.
Yala Enki is another who we certainly haven’t got to the bottom of yet, having only run four times for us, culminating with a very gutsy effort to hold on in the Lanzarote at Kempton a month ago.
He got a little worked up before racing but showed he was very professional in the race itself to lead from the start and see off his rivals.
There is a lot to like about his attitude and he has to be one of the leading chances for the Betfred Handicap Hurdle.
The third horse I ride for Venetia (Williams) is Saroque, who runs in the Betfred Masters. He ran an excellent race to finish fourth to Mountainous in the Coral Welsh Grand National.
While the Betfred Masters is not a National, it is still a competitive race and will take some winning. However, the drop back in trip will suit and he won at this meeting two years ago so we are confident of another good run.
I ride a nice one for David Dennis in the opening Juvenile Hurdle. Seven Kingdoms won as he liked at Kempton on his first run in this country. He carries a penalty but so do two others and he looks a very promising type and it’s no surprise to see the bookies have him as favourite.
It’s Musselburgh’s Cheltenham Trials day on Sunday, which is always an excellent card and I hope to come back with a winner in the shape of Ittirad, who runs in the totepool Scottish Future Champions Novices Chase.
He wasn’t beaten far when fourth behind Ar Mad at Kempton over Christmas and never runs a bad race. You should get a good run for your money.
Ittirad is trained by John Ferguson, who is starting to crank things up again. John’s been waiting for the better ground with his string but you will see more and more out now as the winter turns to spring.
One for your notebooks is Crank Em Up, who I rode for David on Thursday. We finished second at Wincanton in what is traditionally a classy bumper. There could be a couple of winners to come out of it and I would fancy him to win his bumper next time out.
Tenor Nivernais is one who has been worth following, having been placed in all his starts this term. He was a good second at Cheltenham last weekend but I’m not sure whether he’ll be back there for the Festival, as his next target is the BetBright Chase at Kempton at the end of the month. It looks the right race for him.
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