The handicapper has given Paul NIicholls' grey a real chance to bounce back to winning ways.
14:05 Ffos Las
At some point Paul Nicholls is going to find his Saturday dancing shoes again and I like a few of his today. The last 2 winners of the Welsh Champion Hurdle have hailed from Ditcheat and Silsol is back with a very good chance. I like the apparent Nicholls 2nd string though in the form of San Benedeto. He chased home One Track Mind last time which looks solid form, particularly if the latter is as good as his trainer thinks he is. San Benedeto is only 5, very much on the up and is a heavy ground winner. His disappointing run 2 starts back came just a week after his win so I’m willing to put a line through that and some of the early prices floating around look very generous.
A word on the Novice chases, I like the Kempton form of Tea For Two and expect he and Native River to win 2 good races today. Whether they’ll be competitive at Cheltenham remains to be seen but I think the respective tracks this afternoon will really suit. The 3 mile handicap hurdle at Sandown is well worth a play and it’d be no surprise were Yala Enki to be given more company up top than he was last time. It could be a decent test and that will suit a hold up horse like Little Boy Boru. He and likeable stable companion Invicta Lake are 2lb out of the weights but Harry Bannister takes off a useful 3lb and he is effectively running off a mark 5lb below when 2nd (well held) to Tea For Two in the Lanzarote last term. He’s always shaped as though this sort of test would suit and he saves his best for here and Kempton. A course winner, Suzy Smith has been back in the winners enclosure lately and he’s overpriced.
The 3 mile handicap chase at Sandown sees Unioniste back over the course and distance where he was last successful and he’s just 2lb higher. He won easily that day and if fully tuned up for this then he’ll go mighty close. However, his owner has mentioned that this is his National year (he came down in the race 12 months ago when muted it might be a little soon) and there is a niggle that they’ll want to protect his mark given the weights come out in 10 days time. They were happy to pick up a similar prize en route to Aintree last year though and I fancy they’ll go for this. He looked a player here over further at the end of last season before his stamina gave out and the handicapper has given him a proper chance.