Experience key to tricky jumping test at Sandown
Course winner, race fit and well handicapped
Daryl has 5/23.50 and 5.04/1 tips for Sunday
This is a competitive heat, but the standard setter over hurdles by a good distance was Blow Your War - 5/23.50 on the Betfair Sportsbook - and he is taken to make a successful switch to fences at the first time of asking for a yard that typically does well with Novice Chasers.
Chasing has been the plan with him, but connections obviously thought he had a nice handicap mark by starting him off this season in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow, where he ran an excellent second. That race usually works out well, and the ground was against him there, so it bodes well that he ran such a competitive race.
He sits on a handy mark of 134 on the balance of his form. His comfortable Newbury victory over Inneston ties in with Henri The Second, for which that one pulled eight lengths clear of the Nicholls horse at Sandown in the Novices' Hurdle final, along with the smart Crambo, suggesting Henri The Second has a bit to find today.
The switch to fences may level the playing field, and reports suggest Henri The Second has schooled well, but Blow Your Wad is taken to get the better of him today with race fitness under his belt. Le Patron is not taken on lightly, having won well at Fontwell, but this is much deeper.
Back the selection at 5/23.50 or bigger.
It's a competitive race, but it might be worth taking on the Gary Moore trained In The Air, who looked like an improved model for chasing at Huntingdon on debut after six months off. Still, the three-mile race won by our Surrey Quest clocked a quicker final circuit time, and he was faster from three out to the line.
The Moore horse may leave that performance well behind. Still, there will be no hiding place here with Sandown. It is a tricky jumping test for Novices - three take up a chunk of the market.
I'd also be against Jetronic on his Cheltenham figure, while that form gives him the holding of Give Me A Moment. It may pay to look at the more exposed pair Fast Buck and Xcitations - 5.04/1 on the Betfair Exchange.
The former is respected on the balance of his chase efforts but has to put behind him very poor rs over hurdles the last two, and his seasonal return was not one to build a case on. In turn, the selection shaped well at Kempton long before faltering for fitness in a competitive race that was well run from start to finish, and his profile suggests he will improve for that outing.
He scored second time out last year off three pounds lower at Doncaster over recent Haldon Gold Cup winner Elixir De Nutz and followed up here with a devesting display to win by nine lengths.
He is very feasibly treated, having run well off of 150 last season before his form tailed off in the spring. Now is the time to catch him with his latest run under his belt and return to Sandown. He looks good value down in grade into a 0-135 - the lowest graded contest since bolting up at Leicester in 2022.
Fast Buck is not taken lightly, but a bigger performance awaits from Xcitations.
Back him at 4.03/1 or bigger on the Betfair Exchange.
Check out Alan Dudman's Sunday tips here.