Race Time: 4.25pm Meeting: Sandown Distance: 2m 4f
Full Race Name: bet365 Handicap Hurdle (Class 2)
Added to the Channel 4 programme after a concerted effort by ourselves (and others), this will be the last ride of AP McCoy (unless he does a Jamie Spencer and changes his mind of course), and it seems more than a little logical to guess his mount will go off favourite. Box Office (7/2) carries the hopes of a nation as Jonjo O’Neill attempts to let the champ sign off with a winner, but his recent form suggests that may not be as likely as we all hope. Only a four year old his wins to date were both in France and both on softer going than he will face today but he may well appreciate the step up in trip which is the only reason to think that just maybe he is well handicapped.
If he fails to take first place someone will be walking away as the pantomime villain, and that may well be Marc Goldstein if he can get a tune out of Money Talks (16/1) who hacked up at Fontwell last time out in a much lower quality event. Put up another six pounds for that romp (his main challenger fell when looking the sure fire winner), and he seems sure to be popular with the crowd, but we suspect he is not good enough to bother the main principles today.
Philip Hobbs has his horses in decent form as witnessed yesterday at Perth and he is represented here by Brother Tedd (12/1) who would be a winner for jockey Richard Johnson, theoretically the Champion jockey elect when Mr McCoy is no longer on the scene. He would have each way chances if returning to the form that saw him win two on the bounce at Kempton but as there is no guarantee that will happen, we can pass him by.
Wilberdragon (9/1) has won his last two races at Bangor and Market Rasen and has a very progressive profile with three wins from just the five runs, all in decent novice company, and if he gets the extra half mile, he looks the most likely party pooper. Aidan Coleman rides which is no bad thing, and Charlie Longsdon is a more than capable trainer, and we think he will be the one they all have to beat.
To end with (and in AP’s case that’s the correct terminology), L’Aigle Royal (16/1) could be an each way option – again, if he recaptures his early season form. Losses to Golden Doyen and Peace And Co are nothing to be ashamed of, and he does seem to have got in here off of a sensible weight with a rating of just 128 which may make hi ma lot more competitive that the market may suggest.