- 2.25 Sandown Tip - Vinndication - 5/2 William Hill
- 3.00 Sandown Tip - Casko D’Airy - 12/1 Paddy Power
- 3.35 Sandown Tip - Belami Des Pictons - 7/1 William Hill
Saturday’s Sandown meeting provides trainers with a chance to fine tune their Cheltenham Festival hopefuls with the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices' Chase taking centre stage.
For the Sandown betting enthusiasts, that will appeal, but the real punters' race this weekend is the highly-competitive Heroes Handicap Hurdle, and we think we've found the winner - at odds you'll like.
Vinndication Pick Of Sandown Favourites
With 11 horses entered in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown on Saturday, it looks the most competitive Graded novice chase of the season, but with star La Bague Au Roi more likely to head to the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown, and doubts surrounding others, the final field could present opportunity for a rising talent.
Big yards have dominated this Grade 1, trainer Nicky Henderson winning five of the last eight and Philip Hobbs responsible for one of three 5/2 favourites in the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase betting, Defi Du Seuil. However, I think that can change in 2019, and Kim Bailey is the trainer for the job.
"He will want further than two and a half, and if he goes to the Cheltenham Festival it would be for the RSA Chase, as he will stay forever," Kim Bailey said of Vinndication.
Unbeaten in six starts, his Vinndication (5/2 William Hill) comes into this 2m4f test the winner of two chases, including a Grade 2 at Ascot last time out. He also won three hurdles last year, beating Champ over 2m5.5f, that rival this year favourite in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle betting at the Cheltenham Festival.
He has only ever run at right-handed tracks, so it wasn’t surprising to see that he missed Cheltenham last year, but Saturday is billed as a test for the 3m RSA Chase, the six-year-old's trainer hoping for rain to place extra emphasis on stamina.
Nicholls Eyes Heroes Handicap Hurdle Repeat
Saturday's Heroes Handicap Hurdle betting is wide open, Ballymoy, Keeper Hill and Casko D'Airy all vying for favouritism, with half a dozen rivals only a point or two below in the odds.
The one I like, looks a lot like last year's winner Topofthegame, who lined up for the £100,000 Grade 3 having run only once before in handicap company. His trainer Paul Nicholls, winner of the race four times, has produced Casko D’Airy in just the same way, yet this son of Voix Du Nord lines up a winner over the race's distance of 2m7.5f, and is rated 15lbs less.
Casko D'Airy wore a tongue tie for the first time when winning that Ascot handicap hurdle, making significant improvements on his two showings in maiden hurdles in November, where he was beaten a total of 104 lengths. What's more, the fourth and fifth, Annie Mc and Potters Hedger, have both won impressively since.
The seven-year-old has been raised 14lbs in the handicap for his victory, putting him on a mark of 127 and just sneaking in to the bottom of the weights. That rating doesn’t look overly harsh with further improvement likely, and at 12/1 with Paddy Power, he looks to hold strong claims.
Forgotten Belami Des Pictons Value For Masters
The Venetia Williams-trained Belami Des Pictons (7/1 William Hill) has become something of a forgotten horse, having been beset by injury since late 2017.
A six-time winner, Belami Des Pictons has run once since completing a hat-trick of novice chase wins in February 2017, and consequently looks good value in the Sandown betting for the 3m Masters Handicap Chase.
When last seen, it was November 2017 and the eight-year-old was finishing two-and-a-half-lengths second to one of this year's Ryanair Chase favourites Waiting Patiently, now rated 170.
Well beaten in third and fourth that day were the now 147-rated pair Baywing and I Just Know and, while both probably found the trip too short, it’s likely that similar comments are true of the 146-rated Belami Des Pictons, who can boast a 3m success on heavy ground, in which he made all the running.
The step back up in distance is in his favour and with his yard in form, I think he can give his trainer a third win in this race, having taken it in 2017 with Otago Trail and three years earlier with Relax.