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Actually baffled by how poor Planned Paradise was. Never hit a fence on a stride, was off the bridle after jumping the first which is impressive considering it was a 3m race. Money did arrive before the off, which makes it even more strange.
Sandown 12:40 – Brinkley 8/1 (0.5pt EW)
Pertemps races are extremely dodgy to bet in as many will have the final version of the race in the back of their mind which comes at the Cheltenham Festival and to qualify you've got to be in the first four (I think), but I do think Brinkley is very interesting in this race and it clearly looks like they want to win a race of this nature, based on his performance last time out.
This horse is ridiculously well handicapped on his older pieces of form, and I thought his run at Uttoxeter was a big run on his first run of the season, which looked like a nice opener considering Jack Tudor didn't ride him that day. He carried 12st that day against a bang-in form horse called The Imposter, giving a stone away and race fitness away to the winner. This horse was rated 148 at his highest and that rating was when he finished in the middle of the pack of the Pertemps at the Cheltenham Festival in 2021, and he is now 19lbs lower, which is interesting that they are going for this qualifier as the final might be his main target for the season. He loves soft ground, and in a race where the top weights have something to prove and the bottom weights look like they might struggle up in grade, I thought Brinkley looked good value.
Sandown 1:50 – Le Patron 20/1 (1pt, Bet365)
Going for the outsider of this field in Le Patron will come as a surprise to most of the racing world, and I can't envisage many punters backing him, but I tipped him up last time out over 2m 4f at this venue and I thought he looked like a really nice chaser for the future. Granted, he is now in a Grade 1 race where he looks really up against it, but this renewal is just a Grade 1 in name only, as this looks a very poor/weak race when you look at the previous winners of this race which includes Jonbon, Edwardstone, Sceau Royal and Altior.
Gary Moore mentioned a race in February at this track for Le Patron, but I think they fancy their chances seeing how weak this race is for a Grade 1 so they've taken their chance. Connections have to be confident that he can do himself justice in a race like this as they could've easily gone down the handicap route where he could've easily plundered a few big pots along the way, whereas if he was to run a big race in this and not win, they'd come away with no winners prize money and a handicapping rating which is going to skyrocket. This horse reminds me of Gary Moore's winner of this race back in 2015, Ar Mad, that horse came into this race as the outsider of the bunch, rated 130 at the time and he battered them to win this race. I'm not for one minute saying he is going to be as classy as Ar Mad, but I don't think he has to to win this.
He is dropped in trip for today's race, which shouldn't be an issue given the way he travels through his races with plenty of enthusiasm, and if anything on soft ground it could play to his strengths knowing that he stays slightly further than this. He will more than likely race prominently, and I hope they go from the front as his best asset is his jumping and down the back straight over the railway fences where three come quick and fast he might get some of these to make errors.
JPR One is the horse everyone is latching onto, but is he really good enough to be as short as he is? He beat Monviel on chase debut, that horse was virtually PU on his next start. At Cheltenham, he would've won nicely until he fell, but let's be honest he beat a chase debutant in Petit Tonnerre and Homme Public, with the Irish raider, Mighty Tom hardly running to what was expected.
Sandown 3:35 – Fontaine Collonges 3/1 (2pt, Bet365)
I think this race is there for the taking for Fontaine Collonges as I think the horses who have a decent shot are carrying big weights, and they will be vulnerable to a decently well-handicapped horse like my selection.
A couple in this race will more than likely not run this race and they will be heading to Chepstow for the Welsh Grand National trial, which slims the field down slightly, but I didn't think they had a chance in this race anyway if they were to run. Going through the race I was quickly ticking off horses which shouldn't be winning and then came down on Fontaine Collonges who runs well fresh, stays the trip out nicely, will be on a decent handicap mark with Ned Fox's 5lb claim and hails from arguably the best form yard of the last month or so (Venetia Williams).
Venetia won this race last year with Quick Wave and I think they have a perfect opportunity to land it again with this horse.
Beauport will win a race this year, whether it's over this trip, I'm not sure, but to prove your stamina on a stiff track like Sandown on soft ground whilst carrying 12st is not the ideal scenario to be making your first try over this far. Truckers Lodge stays the trip, is now an 11yo, and isn't on the best mark of marks considering he won the Ffos National off 125 as Freddie was claiming 7lbs from 132, and he is now claiming 5lbs off 137.
Aintree 2:05 – Sidi Ismael 18/1 (0.5pt EW, WilliamHill 5pl)
I've been eyeing up Ashtown Lad for this race for a while and been monitoring his antepost price, but that collapsed rather quickly and with Aintree expecting plenty of rain in the morning, I think you've got to look elsewhere.
I like to back horses with experience over the national fences, as it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out they are very niche and a horse will either take to them or not, but I thought it was interesting that David Pipe goes to this race with Sidi Ismael. This horse is making his debut over the national fences in this race, but what fills me with confidence is that David Pipe has trained the winner of this race twice in the last ten years, and knows what type of horse is needed as he had the legend Vieux Lion Rouge in his stable and previous winner of this race, and I think he set the record of the horse who has jumped the most national fences ever, so if he thinks this horse can take to these fences, I think he has a nice EW chance.
This horse will stay the trip, and probably will have the stamina advantage on the majority of these in this race. He'll handle the ground, and he gets in the race off 10st 2lbs which is a very nice racing weight on conditions which will be very testing. He has had a prep run already for this race just 14 days ago, where he wasn't fancied to run well looking at the odds, and was positioned towards the back almost to say it was a fitness run. Kevin Brogan takes the ride and he is 2/2 when riding for David Pipe.
Aintree 2:40 – Knight Of Allen 16/1 (0.5pt EW, Bet365)
Though Max Of Stars sets a fairly useful standard for this race, I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that a newcomer can prove to be better than this bunch and I'm sticking with my guns and putting up Knight Of Allen up for the second time.
This horse was a selection of mine at Cheltenham in a Grade 2 a few weeks ago which was eventually won by Burdett Road. My selection was run out of the field after a horse jinked at the first and then drifted into another horse who then took Knight Of Allen off the course, which was very frustrating as unfortunate as a bit of late money did arrive for my selection. I mentioned in the preview for that race that Jane Williams is a very good trainer of juvenile hurdlers, she often has a couple of very nice ones each year so for her to chuck this horse straight into the deep end into a Grade 2 was off major notice. In hindsight, he would've had to be a Grade 1 juvenile to win the race at Cheltenham as the winner was electric and is now the favourite for the Cheltenham Festival 4yo race.
This horse is related to some very good horses who have previously been trained by Jane (or Nick, Jane's ex-husband), including Galahad Quest and Iliade Allen. The former won a Grade 2 as a juvenile on soft ground at Cheltenham, so the ground looks to be fine.
David Noonan who is the main man for the stable isn't on board, but that's because he's got a good book of rides at Sandown including on Le Patron in the Grade 1, so Sam Twiston-Davies gets on board and he is 1/2 when riding for the yard.
Sandown Park - 12:40 pm
8/1 @ Bet365
Sandown Park - 1:50 pm
20/1 @ Bet365
Sandown Park - 3:35 pm
3/1 @ Bet365
Aintree - 2:05 pm
18/1 @ William Hill
Aintree - 2:40 pm