3.30pm Sandown tips for Sunday’s race. Read on for our free betting tips, predictions and analysis.
IN SUMMARY: An interesting race of household names and one that can go to HOUBLON DES OBEAUX (Each Way) if there is as much early pace in the race as seems likely. He stays even further and will love the stiff uphill finish here more than most and can run in through tired and beaten horses at a decent price.
1 DOUBLE ROSS – Trained by our partner Nigel Twiston-Davies who seems sweet enough on his chances and he seems sure to strip fitter after a solid fourth to Bob Ford at Chepstow in his first race since December last year. Nigel likes to win these Veteran Chases when he has suitable ammunition and Double Ross looks well equipped for a bold effort here with Sam Twiston-Davies in the saddle. Top weight is the only downfall we can see and may be enough to stop him.
2 THIRD INTENTION – Classy enough at his best and rated a full fifteen pounds higher than this at his peak, but that was at the end of 2015 and at the age of ten he has started to decline. Last time out he finished a thirty-three length eighth to Smad Place in the Old Roan Chase here over two and a half miles, but he ought to be a lot happier over this trip and in this class and is impossible to rule out for the Colin Tizzard stable.
3 LOOSE CHIPS – Loves to take them along at a blistering pace and will put any jumping issues for his rivals under pressure from the off if arriving here in the same sort of mood. Jumped badly on his return to action at Chepstow when pulled up behind Bob Ford (and with It’s A Gimme and Double Ross well ahead of him), but he can do better than that and seem sure to have been extensively schooled since his last effort by trainer Charlie Longsdon.
4 HOUBLON DES OBEAUX – Stays forever with a third in the Welsh National over three miles five and a fourth in the Midlands National over close to four and a quarter miles. Loves a dour slog and will be staying on strongly up the infamous Sandown hill, and may well appear on the scene pretty late this afternoon.
5 CREEVYTENNANT – Eight wins from nineteen starts which seems very low mileage for a thirteen-year-old and an impressive tally in the circumstances, and with some solid recent form including a second to Calett Mad at Perth over hurdles last time out. He returns to fences now but has never won off a rating this high and to expect further improvement at his age seems unlikely here.
6 VIVO GRIEGO – Last seen winning this very race in 2015 but not sighted on the track since and surely this is asking too much of him after two years off the track. He does run off just a pound higher now which must make him well handicapped if Gary Moore can bring him back to his best, but at the moment that is the big unknown and he may be best watched ahead of future races for the moment.
7 IT’S A GIMME – Finished one place ahead of Double Ross at Chepstow when third, and meets that rival on the same terms here so has to be considered a serious competitor. He did have a fitness advantage having finished fifth at Uttoxeter in September and as he hasn’t won since 2014, he would surely be a shock winner here
8 PETE THE FEAT – Interesting to see Richard Johnson booked to ride the thirteen-year-old who rolled back the years when winning a Veteran’s Chase over this course and distance back in January. Put up eight pounds for that he has struggled in two runs since but is slipping back down the weights and could do better now if race fit after seven months off the track.