The abandonment of Cheltenham last weekend has given Saturday’s Sandown card a fillip, with two feature races rerouted from the Cotswolds to Esher. The highlight is the Victor Chandler Handicap Chase over two miles. Reopening the race has seen top trainer Paul Nicholls swap ante-post favourite Albuhera with the exciting novice Hoo La Baloo.
Last week’s tip was Tikram each-way, but that was based on his liking for Cheltenham. In contrast Dempsey, who is at the top of most bookmakers’ lists, is a much more potent force going right-handed as he showed last time out when he won over course and distance. The race will in all likelihood be fought out between Dempsey and Hoo La Baloo, with a slight preference for the latter.
In the listed Agfa UK Hurdle, course specialist Self Defense has an excellent opportunity to win a decent prize. This tough mare chased home Feathard Lady on Boxing day and even though she has to shoulder top weight there is nothing else in the race with anything like that form.
The ToteScoop6 Handicap Hurdle is a super competitive handicap. Many of the runners have questions to answer, so it might pay to pick a relatively unexposed horse. Northern raider Ungaro ticks most of the boxes.
Ladalko looked unlucky when crashing out with the race seemingly at his mercy here last time, and can gain compensation in the Agfa Diamond Chase.
1:30 – Hoo La Baloo (win)
2:05 – Self Defense (win)
3:10 – Ungaro (each-way)
3:25 – Ladalko (win)