He is well-handicapped if he can put it all together
Faith kept can be rewarded
There's very little for me to get stuck into on Friday's card at Sandown. I couldn't back the wayward Castelfort in the opening Juvenile at 12:40 with stolen money at 5/42.25 after his debut antics at Chepstow in a poor race. He was kicking, bucking, veering left and right and more. He will trade bigger in-running on the Betfair Exchange - where you can now see the new fire and Ice emojis.
If my hand were forced, I would naturally look at the best of those flat horses, and Galactic Jack would have been where my pin had fallen if not for his hurdle debut at Cheltenham. He has moved to Anthony Charlton after being with the suspended Milton Harris and then Sid Hosie, and all that moving around can't be beneficial, surely. Ithaca's Arrow at 9/110.00 could be interesting, but I will happily pass.
The 13:50 at Sandown looks like a competitive heat. Nicky Henderson's Southoftheboarder 6/42.50 is priced correctly on his impressive Maiden Hurdle victory here, but the step up in trip is a slight unknown for the youngster. However, I get the feeling the Ditcheat yard fancy their chances with Insurrection 9/43.25, and I could barely split them, so again, another race I will watch and learn.
I am afraid "watching and learning" is what I will be doing most of Friday as the early punters have got their mits into the price of Stay Away Fay in the 14:25.
He should relish this stamina test. I have not been convinced about Giovinco's hype, but now is his chance to prove it. This should be a two-horse race. The pair are 15 lbs clear on ratings, and I expect Stay Away Fay to outstay the Lucinda Russell horse, but I couldn't tip him as I think he will trade bigger than his current 10/111.91 in the running. So I will be sat on the machine race time.
The 15:00 sees Betfair pay four places but made me feel queasy, so I quickly skipped to the intriguing 15:35, where Nicky Henderson saddles their favourite Immortal 7/42.75. He will need to be a darn bit better than what he was on seasonal return to justify that price.
However, while West End Boy is a useful prospect in the making - I am not convinced he wants deep ground, and he was behind the favourite when last visiting here on debut. Classic Anthem 13/27.50 probably makes the most appeal. Interestingly, he had a wind operation once his handicap qualifying runs were out of the way, so he could prove a different proposition if that were stopping him from finishing his races.
Anyway, enough babbling.
Ballybreeze is the only horse of interest on today's card from a handicapping perspective. He disappointed this column with a first fence unseat at Cheltenham 21 days ago when backed into favourite for a much stronger race than today's, so I will keep the faith and hope his jockey, Robert Dunne, can keep in the saddle.
He ran an excellent race on chase debut at Chepstow when cantering to victory off a handicap rating of 110. He looked like a highly progressive horse when recording a good number before being thrown into the Grade 1 Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival. He ran a solid race despite being out of his depth until the principals kicked in the turbo. He bounced out of that race and looked like a winner in waiting at Market Rasen when well-supported until he missed a stride and fell three out.
There's good reason to think this rating of 120 is well within his reach, and non-completions aside, he looks the best-handicapped horse in the race by some distance on the clock and in the form book.
The ground on the chase course is currently good to soft, soft in places, so it shouldn't turn as attritional at the hurdles course - I am banking on it because I think he wants good to soft ground - and it's a drying day on Friday.
Fast Buck - who likes it here - is feared most ahead of Kotmask, but if Ballybreeze puts it all together, there's only one winner here.
Back him at BSP as his 2/13.00 on the Betfair Sportsbook looks short, with the market likely anticipating support and he is currently (although no liquidity) 3.25 on the Exchange.