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Newberry New didn't really give us a run for our money, as he was pulled up after jumping a couple of fences. There was clearly something amiss with him, so hopefully he is okay. Findusatgorcombe was a drifter, and despite that, he did run well but couldn't land a glove on the winner, who did it easily.
With Tom George getting a few winners in the past couple of weeks, I think his yard are slowly coming back into form, and I'm willing to give BOAGRIUS a try on seasonal reappearance.
This horse is too well treated to be ignored, and the fact that Sandown shouldn't be getting much rain before the start of racing should mean the ground should remain at good-to-soft, which should be perfect conditions for this lad, when it won't be for the majority of others. There are loads of horses in this race who would like the ground to be soft/heavy, but this lad has his best form on this surface, so will appreciate no further rain (predicted around 1.5-2mm, which should keep it around the same). Though he has only won two races over fences, he has been placed on multiple occasions, and after a patch of poor performances, it has meant his rating has slipped down to 115, which is 11lbs below his last winning mark. Thomas Doggrell takes off a further 7lbs, which makes him extremely well handicapped, and dangerous to look past.
He has not been seen since July, so his fitness will have to be taken on trust. However, he has won when fresh before, and has ran well on a few occasions from an absence, so there is encouragement that he'll be ready. The form of his most recent start has been boosted a lot since he raced, as the winner was clearly well handicapped when they met, as he has won two more times and is now rated 17lbs higher than when they met.
The fact that he stays slightly further than today's trip will be a positive, as there will more than likely be a good pace on, and Sandown is a stiff track, so emphasis on stamina will be a key factor.
Colin Tizzard's yard remain in tremendous form, and another horse who comes into this race with a good chance is NO HUBS NO HOOBS.
I thought his recent start was encouraging, and it left the impression that when they step him up in trip, that is when you'll see the best out of him. Sure enough, today, they have decided to do that, and when you combine it with a stiff track, I think he could put some serious pressure on the favourite.
The form of the last race has started to work out nicely, with the 2nd and 3rd winning since, and the favourite running an okay race in a deeply competitve race at Cheltenham. He is entitled to come on for that run, and should strip a lot fitter for this today. A mark of 110 on handicap debut is definitely not out of the ordinary, especially in this race, where it doesn't appear to have any world beaters.
I do rate Darling Du Large, and she was a winning tip for us a week or so ago, so the fact that GUNSIGHT RIDGE got within 4.5L of her, I think he is on a dangerous mark.
The race at Aintree would've been a nice pipe opener for the selection, and it would have blown away the cobwebs. Punters did get burnt, as he did go off a well fancied 2/1F, so people were expecting him to win. However, he still ran a big race, and if anything, it showed that this step back up in trip is probably what he wants. He stayed on powerfully over 2m, and was gaining on the winner with every stride, so the extra 3f he will get today should see him progress. That was also his chase debut, where he jumped well for the most part, and he would have gained plenty of experience for that. Olly Murphy has put him away for a few weeks, where he would've been schooled again, and rested up so he's 100% ready for his next race. This does look a competitive race, but off a mark of 127, I do believe he is a better horse than that, and will be a better chaser than a hurdler.
Carrying top weight won't be an easy task for POPPA POUTINE, but he has done it before, and is a big strong horse who should be able to do it again.
This lad looks made for chasing, and he was sort of chucked in the deep end of his chase debut last time at this track. The race wasn't full of unexposed horse, but it was a very competitive staying race where the front three in the race were primed for, and he ran with plenty of credit. He finished fourth that day, and the fact they've returned to Exeter and upped him into this marathon trip, suggests that they are planning for a tilt at the Devon National with this lad. I think he would've needed that run last time out, and now he's had that chase experience under his belt, he can kick on and progress.
He is a strong staying horse, so I do believe this step up in trip will be a benefit to him. If you watch his win at Catterick over hurdles in March you'll realise how much stamina he has. He carried 12st 2lbs on soft ground over 3m 1.5F and he powered home, beating the second horse by 1L who was carrying 10st 3lbs. He is only a 5yo, so is still classed as a baby in jumps racing and looks to have potential as a staying chaser.
Whenever Evan Williams sends one to the north it should always be noted, and it's no different with his sole runner of the day, LUSITANIEN who should be much better than his current handicap mark of 99.
It's been a common thing to see from this stable this season with non triers, and you could arguably say that this horse is one of them after last time out. He was ridden cold, out the back, but the horse pulled his way into contention, and then Adam Wedge never really asked the questions on him, and he started to go back slowly. I do think they weren't trying, but also the horse was fresh and probably a little too keen, which is respectable after a 253 day break away from the track. However, the way he travelled through the race suggested this rating is far too low, and the drop back in trip should play to his strength, as he clearly doesn't lack the pace for it.
Evan Williams has a very good strike rate at this track, and operated at a 28% SR in the last five years at Sedgefield. Like I said before, this is his only runner on the day, and he sends him all the way to the North East of England from his South Wales base, which is a round trip of 600 miles.
Sandown Park - 3:00 pm
12/1 @ Bet365
Exeter - 1:30 pm
7/2 @ Bet365
Exeter - 2:40 pm
9/4 @ Bet365
Exeter - 3:15 pm
8/1 @ Bet365
Sedgefield - 1:05 pm