A smart looking handicap chase over three miles that contains a number of contenders still progressing. Read on for our expert tips plus a runner by runner guide to the race.
IN SUMMARY: A really tasty contest at Sandown in prospect with chases at the track, always a pleasure to watch. Twenty Eight Guns has gone from strength to strength this season with this step up in trip possibly unlocking more again. It will need to off this mark and one of the better handicapped horses is the call. Private Malone is interesting on the pick of his form with Richard Johnson a likely plus for his style of running but KNIGHT OF NOIR is a stone below his peak hurdles mark and can make it third time lucky over the bigger obstacles. He showed much more last time behind a subsequent winner at Hereford and this ground should suit him well.
1 COGRY – A recent winner over hurdles but his recent chasing efforts look more like a terrible hand of scrabble. This would not be the ideal track for a horse with his jumping problems but he has the ability if able to cut out the mistakes. He is a dour stayer including a win over 3m2f on soft so neither ground nor trip will inconvenience, it’s just his ability to get from one side of a fence to the other that make him unbackable for most.
2 PETE THE FEAT – Wily old veteran showed that he is far from a back number when claiming the Final of the Veterans series over this C&D in January. The handicapper had given him a chance that day but a subsequent eight pound hike to a mark that he has struggled off as recently as November means that he is tough to support.
3 PRIVATE MALONE – Started his career under rules unbeaten in three hurdles before only going down by a nose on his chasing debut to the smart Silsol. His three subsequent efforts have all been distinctly poor by his earlier standards but for all that he has been disappointing, the earlier ability was too smart to just completely ignore, especially off a mark that looks generous on his better efforts. Hard to back with any great confidence but Richard Johnson could be a smart jockey booking for a horse who needs his mind made up for him.
4 TWENTY EIGHT GUNS – Was a little disappointing over hurdles last season but the switch to fences have really worked the oracle for this ex pointer. She cruised through the contest at Wincanton last time, with the runner up Black Narcissus winning next time up at Catterick to give the form a nice boost. She was value for further on that occasion and despite being faced with another ten pound rise in the weights she could still have more improvement in the locker.
5 KNIGHT OF NOIR – Twice a winner right handed over hurdles in 2014 at Wincanton and Exeter on soft and heavy ground. He progressed well through the handicap hurdle ranks, with a pair of runner up efforts at Cheltenham on the way to the Pertemps Final of 2015. Well seen off on both starts over fences since returning, he showed a glimmer of promise behind Final Nudge at Hereford when last we saw him, That horse has followed up since at Newbury and from a mark a stone below his hurdles peak, he is of huge each way interest.
6 WILOUGHBY HEDGE – Still four pounds higher than when winning at Doncaster about this time last year, a visor is reached for by connections in an attempt to sharpen him up. As with many by King’s Theatre, he won’t want too much cut in the ground but conditions on the chase course at Sandown are rarely as desperate as they are on the hurdles course so he might squeak into a place.
7 HOWLONGISAFOOT – Showed a preference for a sharper track than this when a five time winner for Paul Nicholls. He had shown little in his first three starts for Chris Gordon before showing a glimmer more last time. This will likely be tougher than he cares for but a 0-115 at Taunton next time out would make him of much more interest.
8 REGAL FLOW – Showed smart form for Caroline Keevil including when winning at Cheltenham in the Autumn of 2015. First time cheek pieces could be the helping hand he needs to show more for Bob Buckler and from a mark two pounds below his most recent winning mark on ground he handles and what appears his perfect trip, he would be very interesting if there was a market move for him.
9 KING OF GLORY – Hasn’t been seen since December 2015 when making short work of a Warwick handicap. His best form has all been on ground softer than he is likely to get here while he attempts three miles for the first time. Still lightly raced for one of his age so there could be more to come with an interesting footnote that he takes on his half sister Twenty Eight Guns here.
10 FIGHT COMMANDER – Only a sole win to his credit so far over three miles at Huntingdon. The pick of his efforts have come when going right handed so it was bitterly disappointing that he didn’t show more on his return at Market Rasen. The Oliver Sherwood yard were having a quiet spell at the time so perhaps that can be forgiven but he is still hard to support with any confidence on this season’s efforts.