Timeform highlight the three best bets at Sandown on Thursday...
"The level of that form is much better than any of his rivals here have shown..."
Timeform on Pipesmoker
Numitor has proved a totally different proposition since sent chasing, building on his Ffos Las success with another authoritative win at Wincanton last time. His jumping was again an asset and he showed a good attitude as he lost the lead mid race, but looked strong again between the last two and pulled clear on the run-in after jumping the last. He can defy an 8 lb rise and complete a hat-trick.
Little River Bay has won all three of her starts over hurdles so far this season, and was strong in the market ahead of her latest run at Newbury where she defied a double penalty in good style, looking more professional than previously, but still idling on the run-in which suggests she have even more to offer. That came in testing ground, so conditions won't be a problem, and she should be able to take this step up in grade in her stride.
Pipesmoker is very much the one to beat on what he achieved in two starts over hurdles last season. He got within two and a quarter lengths of stablemate Chantry House (strong form) on his hurdling debut at Cheltenham and ran into another above-average sort in Sporting John on his next start over two and a half miles at Ascot. The level of that form is much better than any of his rivals here have shown, and he could yet make up into a smart performer.
Pipesmoker - 15:40 Sandown
Smart Stat: 2 - Nicky Henderson's number of winners in past 10 runnings
Get up to £50 in free bets for Cheltenham with our superb offer
You can get up to £50 in free bets for Cheltenham in our fantastic Festival offer. Just bet £20 on the Exchange on each Saturday of racing from February 13 onwards to qualify. T&Cs apply. For full details click here.