12:40 Sandown

Leg 1 Selections: Le Breuil, Step Back

Valsheda could take some beating but he’ll need to be a seriously good horse to beat former Cheltenham Festival winner LE BREUIL, who’s jumping will be a big asset around here. Ben Pauling’s team are still in excellent form and his classy ten-year-old jumped and travelled really well en route to scoring by nine lengths three weeks ago. That was a weak race but will have done his confidence the world of good and he should go very well here. 

STEP BACK loves it around here with figures at the course 31314 with the latest of those when a front-running fourth in the Bet365 Gold Cup off a mark of 130. The handicapper has reduced his mark another four-pounds and the blinkers that were worn that day are replaced by the cheekpieces here. His record fresh isn’t exactly great but he’s likely to be given an enterprising ride and could roll back the years with success here. 

13:10 Friday

Leg 2 Selections: Kansas Du Berlais 

KANSAS DU BERLAIS ran a fine race on his hurdles debut when fourth in a warm-looking Listed event in France and should improve plenty for the switch to the Gary Moore team. Gary has also won this twice in recent years too, so he’s clearly targeted this smart recruit at this event and the market has spoken heavily in his favour. If the vibes are correct, he could outclass this field. 

13:45 Sandown

Leg 3 Selections: Milan Bridge, Raffle Ticket

MILAN BRIDGE won three of his five starts over hurdles and chased home subsequent Coral Gold Cup second Remastered at Aintree on his penultimate start in that sphere. It was only a match race that Paul Nicholls’ charge only won a walkover last time but he’s clearly useful and is the one to beat. RAFFLE TICKET hasn’t been seen for quite some time and is lightly raced for his age but he clearly possesses a lot of ability based upon the form he’s shown to date and could be the biggest danger to the former here on his chase debut. 

14:20 Sandown

Leg 4 Selections: Henri The Second, Man At Work

Paul Nicholls’ HENRI THE SECOND won his first two starts in bumpers last season and while something seemed amiss when pulled up in a Grade Two at Aintree on his final start, he shaped well when runner-up on his hurdles debut at Chepstow. He probably would have won without a costly mistake at the third last hurdle but to his credit, he rallied to only be beaten around one-length and the winner has won again since. His trainer has a good record in this race, so he can be recognised as a serious player here. 

MAN AT WORK clocked a good time when winning on his stable/hurdles debut at Aintree when beating Grey Dawning with quite a bit to spare. He recorded a four-seconds quicker overall time than Dashel Drasher over the same track and trip, so it was a smart winning performance first-time-up, especially when you consider how keenly he raced too. He looks a very smart prospect for connections and it’s interesting to see Tom Scudamore opt to come here to ride him for his only ride on the card instead of going to Exeter to ride chase debutant Make Me A Believer. 

14:55 Sandown

Leg 5 Selections: Darebin

DAREBIN isn’t the force he once was but Gary Moore’s ten-year-old tends to save his best for this course-and-distance, especially this time of year, where his form in December at this course reads 34312. He won this race in 2020 off a thirteen-pounds higher mark and almost landed last year’s renewal when a one-length second to One True King off 113. He probably would have won without a bad mistake at the last fence when clear, as that knocked the stuffing out of him and he was headed on the run-in. Despite being three-pounds out of the weights, he has loads in his favour and looks set to make another bold bid in a race that he’s practically made his own in recent years. 

15:30 Sandown

Leg 6 Selections: Mothill

Neil Mulholland’s only runner on the card MOTHILL has a good chance here. The four-year-old clearly needed his first two starts in the UK to settle into his new surroundings but he’s not looked back since and should make a bold effort here. He travelled really well at Chepstow on heavy ground back in February and made the promising Marco Island pull out all the stops when beaten just a neck at the finish before winning twice and then running well at Cheltenham last time. He is fancied to confirm that latest form and take the spoils here.