Sandown hosts one of the best jumping cards of the season on Saturday. The big betting race is the totescoop6 Sandown Handicap Hurdle.
It is a contest worth watching with Cheltenham in mind as Miracle Man, Trainglot and Rubhahunish all went on to score there after winning this. Martin Pipe's Liberman is a hot favourite, though only two of the last fifteen jollies have won.
Liberman can buck that trend. He is a stand-out choice both on the basis of potential and recent form. That Liberman is a class horse is without doubt; any winner of the Cheltenham Champion Bumper, which he claimed in 2003, needs to be treated with respect. Last term, however, he did not get his act together over timber. This season Pipe's seven-year old brown gelding has made up for lost time, winning four from five starts.
His last victory was particularly eye-catching, beating the sharp Patriarch Express by two lengths at Market Rasen. That form looks bombproof as Patriarch Express has since won the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham, claiming the scalps of some horses with gilded reputations. If you cannot bring yourself to back a horse at such short odds in a big field, the imposing mare Supreme Serenade looks a threat.
One racing homily worth noting is keep backing a winning mare until she loses. Bathwick Annie fits the bill in a wide-open Agfa Diamond Handicap Chase. She is improving fast in a field of exposed handicappers and beat a good benchmark in Zaffamore at Wincanton last time out.
In the totesport Scilly Isles Novices' Chase trust El Vaquero to reverse form with My Will. A loose horse distracted him when they clashed at Cheltenham. Encouragingly, this is his first run over a right-handed course since winning at Taunton. El Vaquero beat Lacdoudal and Le Passing that day, who have since won three times and twice respectively. Earlier on the card Oneway can complete a five-timer in the 1:40.
Sandown 2:50 El Vaquero (win)
Sandown 3:25 Liberman (win)
Sandown 4:00 Bathwick Annie (win)