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Both of the runners at Market Rasen were given poor rides, in my opinion. I felt like both jockeys went far too soon, literally going for home at identical times when turning for home and it's not exactly a short run in at Market Rasen, and both horses hit the front and got reeled back in. I can expect that to happen with the claimer, but for Brian Hughes to do it, that's very poor from a previous Champion Jockey.
Sandown 1:15 – Ballybreeze 9/4 (1pt, Bet365)
Though there is doubt in my mind about Ballybreeze, that it could be a bookies horse and you can easily be drawn into thinking he is ahead of the handicapper, I've opted to go for him as I do think he can win races off his current handicap mark.
He was well-supported last time out at Cheltenham where Robbie Dunne unseated after the first, and it seemed like a very soft unseat. The horse seemed to jump it fine, you can't see how he landed as there was a wall of horses in front, but from what I could see it did look a very soft unseat from an experienced jockey. This horse was chucked into the deep end after breezing home in a Class 4 0-120 race at Chepstow when winning on the bridle off a 10lb lower mark on chase debut. They strangely put him into the Arkle where he went nicely for a good while, but was eventually outclassed which wasn't a surprise. They then opted for a Class 3 race at Market Rasen off an untouched mark of 120, he travelled nicely until falling on landing three from home, he was a definite player in that race when coming down. He's had a wind-op over the summer and was well-fancied, as I previously mentioned, for his return in a Class 2, with literally every man and his dog being on him that day.
As a result of this profile, he is a tad short in the market, but I do believe he is ahead of his handicap mark and this race doesn't look too strong. My main concern is the blunders he has made, I'll give him the pass on lto, but he was cruising in his PTP race, literally just had to jump the last two fences and he bottled it that day. The positive to take out of his PTP race was that he can run fine on soft ground, which he has yet to prove over rules, and he was withdrawn on good ground for “unsuitable ground” though he had previously bolted up on that surface. A couple of horses towards the top of the weights are dropping down in ratings, but I don't think they are low enough to be deemed as ‘well in', so as long as Ballybreeze jumps nicely I think this race is for the taking.
Sandown 3:00 – Planned Paradise 7/1 (0.5pt EW, Bet365)
Nothing else really stands out as a bet on the Sandown card other than Planned Paradise who is on a good handicap mark and can return to form on the third time of asking for his new trainer, Christian Williams.
I've not had much fun backing Christian's horses recently, and he is a trainer who likes to land big pots with his horses, but that's not going to happen with a horse rated as low as 112, so they'll have to start trying at some point with him. This horse has always seemed like a strong stayer, so the testing ground over 3m could be key to his chances of winning as he will stay the trip and see it out better than most, if not all of these. His runs for Christian have been poor, but he hasn't been prominent in the market, which is normally a good sign that they aren't going to win for this owner and trainer, so any money which arrives for him today is a positive note.
He handles good to soft and has run well on soft ground on his sole attempt over 3m 6f earlier this year and finished 2nd on his sole PTP on soft ground, so he does act on this surface. Sam Twiston Davies is an interesting jockey booking as he has only been used three times for this trainer, and Jack Tudor is available. I get the impression the owner has asked for Sam to take the ride as he was on board when this horse won back in 2022, which was his last win, which came off a 1lb higher mark. Christian Williams has come out and said that this is the owner's favourite meeting and “it's nice for him to have runners there”, almost a signal that this horse will be primed for today given that the owner really rates this meeting.
Sandown Park - 1:15 pm
9/4 @ Bet365
Sandown Park - 3:00 pm