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■ Rules are made to be broken and anyone who says they have a codified set of readily applied strategies to pick winners in horse races is probably also a congenital liar. That said, there is one aphorism that is worth heeding: always pick a progressive horse over a proven one, if all other factors are equal.
That approach certainly makes it seemingly impossible to solve puzzles like Saturday’s feature race at Sandown, the Racing Post Chase. Basically, this is a field of pretty exposed horses. They have been there and thereabouts all season and their handicap marks are a reflection of their ability. Likely favourite Lacdoudal is a good example. The grey is a decent type, but last time he scored in a handicap he was rated 138 and he lines up off 149 today.
There are three horses with genuinely progressive profiles in the race (barring Calling Brave who is hard to fancy after a long lay-off) – top weight L’Ami, Fork Lightning and Graphic Approach. It is difficult to separate this trio, but at the odds Graphic Approach makes most appeal. He is proven at the course and on the ground and although the peerless Tony McCoy is not available trainer Charlie Egerton has found a super-
sub in Paddy Brennan.
Horses at the outset of their national hunt careers compete in Adonis Juvenile Novices Hurdle and on the basis of two good wins in lesser grade Blazing Bailey can rattle up a hat-trick.
The Eider Chase at Newcastle is an old-fashioned slog but the theme remains the same and Dunbrody Millar has been a highly progressive staying chaser this season.
2.45 Sandown – Blazing Bailey (win)
3.20 Sandown – Graphic Approach (each way)
3.35 Newcastle – Dunbrody Millar (win)