All eyes are already focused on the looming action in the Cotswolds next week but for now the C4 cameras are busy at Sandown and Wolverhampton with six races of coverage. Now is also a great time to have a bet on the races shown by Balding and co. as if you back a winner at odds of 4/1 or greater on any C4 race Ladbrokes will give you a free bet matching the same stake. Below are previews of all six races.
2:05 Sandown – Classic Move
The majority of the field arrive in decent heart, none more so than Donald McCain’s hat-trick chasing Classic Move. Two bloodless victories since the end of December at Bangor and Catterick have not been enough to book a ticket to Prestbury Park but he has to be seriously considered to make the most of this assignment.
With the stable in predictably rude health with 13 winners already banked for the fortnight it would be no surprise to see the five-year-old continue the yard’s winning touch although there is no shortage of alternatives.
At the top of that list would have to be Paul Nicholls’ Ceasar Milan who is also hunting a third win on the spin after contrasting wins at Taunton last month. Harry Derham is unbeaten on the six-year-old and they have clearly built an understanding together that makes them a serious threat.
2:20 Wolverhampton – Kenny Powers
None of the field arrive off the back of a win but the one who came closest last time, Kenny Powers, might be the answer.
One of only three course and distance winners in the race, Tom Dascombe’s five-year-old has been off the track for almost exactly a year but his handler is no stranger to getting horses right after a break and it would be a surprise if the Meydan regular didn’t give a good account of himself.
David Barron’s Bertiewhittle is the most consistent performer in the field having only finished outside the frame once in his last six starts.
However, enthusiasm is tempered when you have to look all the way back to August 2011 to find the last time he secured maximum prize money.
2:40 Sandown – Count Guido Deiro
A huge week lies ahead for Nigel Twiston-Davies and his son Sam but in the meantime they can keep the good times rolling courtesy of Count Guido Deiro.
The son of Accordion has responded well since unseating Adam Wedge on his seasonal reappearance at Ascot last November and despite getting slammed by the useful Midnight Prayer last time he has responded to defeat with victory before and must be respected.
Again for those wanting to take another route there are an abundance of options, notably Noble Legend from Caroline Bailey’s stables.
The Northamptonshire handler has only had two runners at the Esher course in the past and so it could be deemed significant that she lets her talented seven-year-old take his chance here pursuing an eighth success from only 17 starts.
2:55 Wolverhampton – Noble Citizen
Most of the runners know exactly where the winning line is, especially the David Simcock-trained Noble Citizen who is unbeaten this year on the all-weather.
Those three wins have all come at Southwell and so there will always be doubts about how he will respond to the different challenges presented by Wolverhampton on his track debut but on form alone he deserves his lofty position in the market.
Fashion Line is also nursing an unbeaten tag for the campaign and has the benefit of having won over the course and distance with rising star of the weighing room Louis Steward in the bike.
3:15 Sandown – New Year’s Eve
John Ferguson has only had a handful of runners this week as he prepares his jet black colours for the Cotswolds but that shouldn’t stop New Year’s Eve securing the three-timer.
Impressive victories at Huntingdon and Market Rasen in January and February respectively took Jack Quinlan’s unbeaten record on the son of Derby winner Motivator to four and with the three pound conditional onboard again the advice is not to look elsewhere.
If the temptation becomes too great, however, Anthony Honeyball’s ultra-consistent Regal Encore would have to be on the slip considering some of his form but he is likely to go off favourite and the price could become prohibitive.
3:50 Sandown – Pectora
Oliver Sherwood’s string have been ticking over nicely this season and his Lambourn stable could be celebrating another win with Pectora.
Making his first start of the campaign, Leighton Aspell’s partner justified favouritism at Worcester over a year ago on only his second racecourse outing and if returning in similar mood would take all the beating.
Of the others, Fergal O’Brien has had no difficulty making the transition to the training ranks and could possibly improve his 20 per cent strike rate for the fortnight if Pitter Patter can maintain his unbeaten record and secure a hat-trick of victories.
Five-pound conditional Conor Shoemark got an excellent tune out of the four-year-old last time at Newbury and the battling qualities shown that day and on debut will serve him well in what is a competitive contest.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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