The ITV cameras head to Sandown this Saturday and Betfair ambassador Kevin Blake has two tips for his readers, including a front runner as well as a patiently ridden veteran...
"...the possibility of him getting an uncontested lead here is a significant positive. He will have no problem with the testing ground and looks to have a very good chance."
This column welcomed in the New Year with a winner thanks to Stormy Ireland last week and hopefully we can keep up the momentum.
Anyone that suggests this weekend's action is on the right side of the mid-line of the ordinary scale is probably telling fibs, but there as always there are betting opportunities to be found even if the races themselves aren't the most marketable.
From post to post, hopefully...
Both of my selections are at Sandown and the first of them comes in the Unibet Horserace Betting Operator of the Year Handicap Chase (13:50). Tactics could well shape this race, as my read of it is that the Heather Main-trained Numitor could well benefit from an uncontested lead.
Moonlighter and Paddy's Poem have both made the running in the past, but I suspect their connections won't wish them to do so on this occasion.
Numitor's latest run at Newbury reads well, as he was inconvenienced by being taken on for the lead that day, yet still only gave best to the progressive Il Ridoto on the run-in.
That run would have given him strong prospects in this race by itself, but the possibility of him getting an uncontested lead here is a significant positive. He will have no problem with the testing ground and looks to have a very good chance.
O'Brien's veteran can be delivered late on
The other race of interest is the Unibet Veterans' Handicap Chase (15:00) is always a great race for the old boys and the one I like in this year's renewal is the Fergal O'Brien-trained Final Nudge.
The 13-year-old has been lightly raced since becoming eligible for veterans' races, but he returned from a summer break in fine form to win a leg of this series at Warwick under a well-judged ride from Paddy Brennan.
He beat a few of his rivals in this contest that day and the form got a boost with the third home Head To The Stars winning his next start in an open handicap chase at Ludlow.
Raised just 3lb for that victory, this track and the likely run of the race might well suit him even better than Warwick. There seems to be an abundance of pace in the race, which can only help him given that he likes to be ridden with patience and delivered late. Testing ground holds no fears for him and with a bit of luck he'll run a big race.
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