Andy Stephens tipped two winners from four selections in his How To Bet £20 column last Saturday, including a £4 each-way tip at 16-1 on Ebor winner Muntahaa. Find out who he fancies on Saturday below.
The start of September always means one thing to me: that the first jumps fixture of the season takes place at Cheltenham next month.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Flat, but there really is nothing like mature steeplechasers stretching every sinew over two miles and beyond for jockeys whose courage knows no limits at the home of jump racing. Roll on The Showcase meeting on October 26-27.
Saturday would not be the most high-profile in the calendar but there does look some decent betting opportunities and I’m pleasantly surprised that a couple of my fancies are available at 16-1.
This strong travelling hold-up sprinter is going to need his share of luck from a wide draw in 13 but Jamie Spencer excels on such horses and the combination looks massive at 16-1 to click at the first time of asking.
The fact Jashma has been beaten seven times since the start of last year after trading odds-on in-running tells its own story (including last time at Newbury when he was matched at 1.15 on Betfair) but the stiff finish at Sandown, where rivals come back to him, clearly plays to his strengths.
He won over course and distance in smooth style last autumn and was desperately unlucky not to add another win at the track in June when he was running all over his rivals a furlong out only to get no room to manoeuvre on the far rail.
The two sprint winners at Sandown on Friday both overcame double-figure draws (two others drawn high were also placed) and the far rail did npot seem the place to be.
Rapid Applause and Global Applause rate dangers but I hope it’s Jashma who we will be clapping back into the winner’s enclosure.
There are a string of habitual front-runners in this handicap and things could be teed-up a treat for Shady McCoy.
The Ian Williams-trained eight-year-old, who is in his element when pouncing from off the pace, has yet to get his head in front this term but he ran a cracker when runner-up in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket in July and again did little wrong when beating all bar Via Serendipity over a mile at Ascot last time.
In between, he also ran much better than the bare form suggests in the International Stakes.
This extended seven furlongs around a bend should be perfect and if there is pace meltdown then he can be relied upon to take full advantage.
How Rotherwick can be the complete outsider in the field, at 16-1, is beyond me. He’s tremendously consistent, versatile regards the ground and running over his optimum trip.
More than that, he is only 2lb higher than when an excellent third behind Thundering Blue and Monarchs Glen in this race last year. That pair need little introduction and are now significantly higher in the ratings.
And on his only other start at Sandown, Rotherwick beat all bar a certain Jack Hobbs when trying to concede him 4lb.
Barring having the misfortune to bump into another Group One performer, this could be his day.
I backed him to win the race two years ago and he would have delivered but for a bad stumble and being down on his nose at the start. Twelve months ago, he again gave it a good shot but could not quite get to grips with Take Cover.
He again has that evergreen sprinter to deal with but he is the better drawn of the pair this time and their respective efforts at the Ebor meeting - Final Venture went down by a neck off a lofty mark in a red-hot handicap while Take Cover never figured in the Nunthorpe - suggest he should be favourite.
A 15-month absence will deter some from backing Laugh Aloud but the fact the Godolphin filly has been kept in training is a big tip in itself because as a well-related daughter of Dubawi with a runaway Group Three to her name she is a valuable broodmare prospect.
Evidently, her problems have not been severe and, while she will be entitled to come on for the run, it will be a surprise if John Gosden sends her to Esher half-cooked, not least because her three Group One entries this autumn are looming.
She sets the standard on form and I’d much rather be with her, at a generally available 9-2, than short-priced favourite Veracious, who was a close third in a muddling Nassau Stakes last time.
Watch our experts analyse the Acomb Stakes
Too Darn Hot is impeccably bred and looked a decent prospect when running away with a maiden over a mile on softish ground at the course 22 days ago but he looks skinny at around Evens, given his rivals have achieved more and that he’s dropping in trip on drying ground.
By contrast, the 7-1 available about Watan looks much too big because he also impressed when winning on his debut, at Goodwood, and he enhanced his reputation when runner-up to Phoenix Of Spain in the Acomb at York.
That looked a strong renewal of the Group Three contest - all eight runners had won on their previous start - and I fancy Watan, who travelled like the best horse much of the way, will have learnt plenty from the experience.
The fact that he’s turning out again relatively quickly should not be regarded as a negative and Ryan Moore, who partnered him at Goodwood, is back on board.
How To Bet £20 on Saturday:
1.50 Sandown: Jashma £1 win and £2.50 each-way at a general 16-1
2.05 Chester: Shady McCoy £2.50 win at a general 7-1
2.25 Sandown: Rotherwick £2 each-way at a general 16-1
2.45 Beverley: Final Venture £3 win at a general 4-1
3.00 Sandown: Laugh Aloud £2 win at 9-2 with Ladbrokes
3.35 Sandown: Watan £2.50 win at a general 7-1
34p Win Heinz and 31p each-way accumulator on the six horses above.