While it’s true to say that the cards this weekend have an ‘After The Lord Mayor’s Show’ feel to them – with so many stables’ best and brightest seen over Christmas and the New Year – there are four horses who look good value at Sandown. Never miss an opportunity in this game!
In the 1:20 Handicap Chase, CAP DU NORD is available at double-figure odds, which underestimates his chances. The seven-year-old ran with credit in fourth in a strong Class 2 at Ascot last time out in deep ground, which doesn’t suit him. That run bodes well, and down in class here on better ground, Cap Du Nord looks to have been found a good opportunity by trainer Christian Williams. Williams obviously has his string in decent fettle given Potters Corner’s win in the Welsh National, and it’s notable that Jack Tudor is aboard with his extremely handy seven pound claim. Tudor is great value for that claim, meaning the seven-year-old gelding runs off (effectively) a mark of 115, and given he won in March at this grade off a mark of 118, this race could be within his grasp. Dashing Perk, who won well over course and distance in December, is an obvious danger, but he jumped to the right that day and given Cap Du Nord is available at four times the price, the value choice is obvious.
The highlight of the day for the vast majority of racing fans won’t be the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle, but the Veterans Chase Final (3:00), where old foes do battle in memory of Houblon Des Obeaux. There are two horses who I’m keen on here, especially given the drying ground won’t suit well-fancied favourite Jepeck.
The first is DARK FLAME, who has obvious claims given his second in the voided London National last month. The “winner” that day, Doing Fine, achieved a genuine win on his next start, boosting the form, and while many of these older horses are racking up their form only in veterans’ races, Dark Flame achieved that second place in open company. He’s only had 12 career starts, so might not even have reached his peak, and if so a mark of 125 is eminently workable.
The second choice is the legendary VIEUX LION ROUGE, still only eleven years old. He simply may have the class edge in this field if on song, having already proved his wellbeing this season by winning a Veterans Chase at Chepstow. Extraordinarily it’s his Sandown debut, but given this lovable chaser is famous for his impeccable jumping, he should find the track to his advantage. His odds look wrong at the current prices, and he’s worth an investment.
Finally, the closing 3:35 Handicap Hurdle has been chosen by Colin Tizzard as the comeback race for ELDORADO ALLEN, the stable’s number one novice hurdler last term until his desperately unfortunate injury at Aintree. The handicapper hasn’t been overly kind by allocating him a mark of 145, but if he is fully tuned up that mark vastly understates his ability, and he could hose up in this company. This is a bet with obvious risks attached – Eldorado Allen may not retain all his ability and/or may desperately need the run – but the market reflects that, and odds of 11/2 could look ridiculous if he is truly back on song.
Recommended Bets 04/01/20 (all Sandown):
1:20 Cap Du Nord 1pt e/w at 12/1 (Various)
3:00 Vieux Lion Rouge 0.5pts e/w at 16/1 (4 places, Various) & Dark Flame 0.5pts e/w at 13/2 (4 places, Various)
3:35 Eldorado Allen 1.5pts win at 11/2 (Hills, Coral)