Both of yesterday’s selections were very disappointing.
2.30 – Sandown – Lord Marmaduke. 1 pt e/w. Available at 12/1.
An amateur riders’ handicap over hurdles and much may depend on jockeyship as well as an ability to handle the testing ground. Lord Marmaduke has to shoulder topweight and he faces a difficult task here from a mark of 116 on his handicap debut. However he has shown ability on his last two starts and, although he will need to improve to get competitive, that’s possible on just his fourth start over the smaller obstacles. His best effort so far was arguably on his penultimate start on another stiff right-handed track, Leicester. His six and half length third of the nine runners has worked out quite well with the winner going into the race rated 135 (now 137), the second improving subsequently to mark of 132 and the fourth likewise to a mark of 120. That came on soft ground just shy of today’s trip so conditions here shouldn’t faze him. He has the assistance of a seven pound claimer (Lt. Billy Aprahamian) who doesn’t have much experience under rules (1 from 5) but he has had success in the Pointing environment and, as a former professional Polo player, he is an accomplished horseman.
3.40 – Sandown:
Baden. 2 pts win. Available at 11/2.
Winter Lion. 1 pt win. Available at 10/1.
The Grand Military Gold Cup and last season’s winning partnership, Rathvinden Rose/Capt. Guy Disney, attempt to retain their crown. The duo are three from three on this track and they are probably the ones to beat. Given that this race looks to have a bit more depth than last year’s renewal it may be worth taking on the favourite. There are a few viable alternatives and top of that short-list are Baden and Winter Lion. Baden is a Novice over fences but has improved from race to race in three starts and he did well to get within three lengths of Dingo Dollar in a three runner race last time out at Doncaster, despite possibly being flattered. He was receiving six pounds from the 143 rated winner but a literal reading of that effort gives him a good chance in this race if he were to repeat it and there’s every likelihood of more improvement to come. He has plenty of physical scope and is still unexposed as a stayer. He represents the Champion Trainer and it could be a good day for his jockey if he was to prevail here as well as on Lord Marmaduke. Winter Lion has joined a yard who have won this race twice in the last four years. He has run well in three of his five starts as a Chaser and has come against the likes of Brio conti, Art Of Payroll and Monbeg Notorious in those races. His best effort arguably came against the latter and that was his stiffest test of stamina to date (extended 25 furlongs in soft/heavy ground). He would probably be seen to better effect on faster going but he has shown he can handle it much slower and gives the impression he is capable of better over fences. The normal cheekpieces are removed but the Trainer has enjoyed a very good season and he does very well with his horses over the bigger obstacles (very profitable 17% strike rate in recent seasons).
4.45 – Sandown – Admiral Kid. 1 pt e/w. Available at 11/1.