After a fantastic season of action, the jump season finally comes to a close at Sandown on Saturday. We’ve been treated to a brilliant campaign, with feel-good storylines and devastating performances aplenty from a season that’s left us praying for October all over again. You can view all our horse racing tips on site now, including Friday’s ITV Racing tips!
Mullins Breaks His Gold Cup Hoodoo
It was the piece of the puzzle he was missing, and this year was finally the one for Willie Mullins as he claimed his first Gold Cup. Given the multitude of winners he serves up each year at the Festival, it was always surprising how little success he’d had in the Blue Riband event, but it was equally no shock when Al Boum Photo sauntered clear under Paul Townend to give the Master of Closutton his maiden honour in the race.
Tiger Roll Makes History
After his triumph in the Grand National in 2018, plenty doubted whether Tiger Roll could become the first horse since Red Rum to land back to back Nationals. Those doubts started to be questioned when he blitzed his way to success at the Cheltenham Festival, sent off the shortest-priced favourite for the National in recent memory. Tanking his way through the race, he would score comfortably, landing plenty of bets and cementing himself into British folklore.
Champion Jockeys’ Elect
Richard Johnson will be crowned Champion Jockey for the fourth straight year on Saturday, with his win tally currently sitting at 197 winners for the season. With total prize money of £2,226,636, his strike-rate of 20% is truly remarkable for the number of rides he’s taken and he’s deservedly champion once again.
Johnson is likely to pair Rock The Kasbah in the bet365 Gold Cup, with the pair being brought down in the Grand National earlier in the month. He was a clear second in the race twelve months ago and that form gives him a strong chance, if the National hasn’t left its mark.
An honourable mention has to go out to Harry Skelton, who gave him his biggest challenge yet and will finish the season around twenty down on Johnson, which is an extremely good resistance.
His best chance on Saturday looks to be Solomon Grey, who has returned to form in recent starts, placing in the Lanzarote and a competitive handicap at Ayr subsequently. He’s edged up the weights, but he’ll be suited by a stiff finish and should put in a likeable performance.
Champion Conditional will go the way of Bryony Frost, who has had a standout year and currently sits one short of the fifty winner mark. She’s currently sidelined with a broken collarbone, but she may return on Saturday for the finale, which would give her a fighting chance of going through the half-century barrier.
Her best chance, if she does ride, is likely to be Present Man in the bet365 Gold Cup. The partnership won a second Badgers Ales Trophy earlier in the year and finished third in this race twelve months ago, so a bold bid couldn’t be discounted.
Paul Nicholls Regains the Crown … Barring a miracle
After two years of Nicky Henderson taking the title, Paul Nicholls is massively odds on to regain the National Hunt Trainers Championship. Although he’s had less than winners than Henderson and the record-equalling 201 winners of Dan Skelton, he currently sits £416,300 clear in prize money.
With £580,000 still available in prize money at Sandown on Saturday, it’s still mathematically possible, but you’d need to see a miracle of epic proportions for Henderson to usurp Nicholls in the run to the line.
Paul Nicholls holds the aces in the opening Novices’ Championship Final Handicap, with both Getaway Trump and Christopher Wood vying for favouritism. The latter was a Grade 1 third at Aintree when last seen, dropping into handicaps off an interesting mark. The former bounced back from a slump at Kelso when delivering a devastating performance at Ayr earlier this month, with this handicap mark by no means beyond him.
Nicky Henderson runs his stable-star Altior in the Grade 1 Celebration Chase, with Cyrname ducking out of the fight. Given that fact, it should be a very comfortable afternoon for the best National Hunt horse in training.
101/1 Each-Way Double Tip For Saturday
The Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls has a leading chance on Saturday in the form of Getaway Trump, who surged back to form with a scintillating performance at Ayr earlier this month. He travelled like a dream before putting in a devastating turn of foot. He’s a best-priced 6/1 to get off the mark in handicaps.
The second leg of the double is Present Man, who should be ridden by fan-favourite Bryony Frost. He retained the Badger Ales Trophy earlier in the season and was placed in this race twelve months ago. He stays extremely well and has a very willing partner, so another big run looks more than likely.
The double pays 101/1 with Coral, as Paul Nicholls looks to finish off the season in style!