8th December 2017
We head down to Sandown for tomorrow’s target race – the London National Handicap Chase (3.30)….
A field of 12 heads to post for the class 2 contest for horses aged 5yo+ and rated 0-150 over the right-handed 3m5f trip and 24 fences….
The Paul-Nicholls-trained Southfield Theatre heads the weights on his mark of 148. At the other end of the scale The Happy Chappy will carry 10-00. He’s rated 122 and will go to post out of the handicap and 2lb wrong at the weights….
The ground at Sandown is described this afternoon as good to soft.
We’ll get to my selection in a moment. First, a word about two other big handicap target races tomorrow afternoon up at Aintree…
Aintree plays host tomorrow afternoon to two races run over the big Grand National fences – the Becher and the Grand Sefton….
Those fences take some getting over and heavy ground will ensure that both races are a test of stamina. Weight is likely to be a big issue….
In both races I’m siding with a horse equipped for the job and carrying weight that will advantage it – both horses are available at nice each-way prices….
You can get immediate access to these extra bets on the website when you take a FREE 14-day test drive of my Against the Crowd service….
I’m two-against-the-field for tomorrow’s Sandown race – I’m backing both horses to win and foregoing the opportunity to play for place money….
First-up, Venetia Williams’s HOUBLON DES OBEAUX at 9s….
He seems like he’s been around forever. But the truth is he’s still only 10 – admittedly rising 11 – and signs are that the fire still burns bright in him.
He got back to winning ways off a mark of 141 at Sandown last month. That was a decent performance given that it came over the bare 3-mile trip and I consider the race a mere sighter for tomorrow’s contest. The additional five furlongs will be much more up his street and he should be all the better for them.
The handicapper has only put him up 2lbs for that win – so he runs off 143 tomorrow. You can make what you will of that. But I’ll say this…
It was only last Christmas that the horse ran 3rd in the Welsh Grand National behind Native River (a Gold Cup horse) and a horse running off a featherweight on desperate ground. That performance was produced off a mark of 153.
He’s dropped down the scale pretty quickly (he was rated 158 at the end of the 15/16 season) and last month’s performance suggests he may have dropped to a point where he’s underestimated and well-handicapped. Charlie Deutsch takes off what has become the usual 3lb and he can go well.
The other one I’m going with is the bottom-weight, THE HAPPY CHAPPY. He’s just 6-years-old, he’s improved for each of his three fencing assignments to date, he’s on a 3-timer and there should be more to come yet off 122.
He’s considered a future Grand National horse, so this first step up to the 3m5f trip stands every chance of finding some of that improvement.
He jumps well – which is a requirement at Sandown – and the booking of Harry Cobden – who will know the horse from his time with Paul Nicholls – signals a bit of intent.
He wouldn’t want it too soft. But the ground at Sandown will be drying out all the time. There’s no rain forecast overnight and I’m taking it on trust that underfoot conditions will be okay for him.
He’s inexperienced – there’s no getting away from that – and this is a real step-up in class, but there’s enough to like to go in at the 16s.
In tomorrow’s London National Handicap Chase (Sandown, 3.30)….
HOUBLON DES OBEAUX @ 9s (Generally)
THE HAPPY CHAPPY @ 16s (Generally)
Standard place terms are 1/4 1-2-3. I’m backing both horses win only. But how you play is your call.
That’s all from me this week. Enjoy your weekend.