Whilst it is hardly original or profound to say so, horse racing can be a cruel sport. On Thursday, Henry Daly’s stable star, the supremely talented Mighty Man, suffered a career threatening injury when cruising at the head of affairs in the Champion Stayers’ Hurdle over in Ireland at Punchestown. In Saturday’s feature, the Betfred Gold Cup at Sandown, Alderburn can turn the miserable fortune of the stable around 360 degrees.
This is no sentimental bet. This lightly raced chaser has some impressive bits of form in the book this season that mark him out as good enough to win. Last time out at Ascot he was particularly impressive. He won over three miles beating some decent horses on the day. More tellingly, the form has been franked with both the second and fourth home winning since.
Alderburn shaped in that race as if a step up to extreme trips would suit. He can exploit the stamina doubts over ante-post favourite Reveillez in what should be a truly run contest. Last week’s pillar-to-post Scottish Grand National winner, Hot Weld, looks sure to employ the same tactics here, hoping to burn off the pace of some faster horses. He must be vulnerable after a tough race and can set it up for Alderburn.
On a rare mixed card, the Group 2 Betfred Mile is the best race on the flat. Final Verse will benefit from a pipe-opener nine days ago. This is a step up in class on his listed win last term, but his sixth in the 2000 Guineas close to horses of the calibre of Araafa is as good as any of the form on offer here.
Back over fences, the Betfred Celebration Chase is at the mercy of Dempsey. This horse absolutely loves his days out in Esher, having won three times over course and distance from five starts. His second in this year’s Queen Mother’s Chase at Cheltenham suggests he is in the form of his life. He has had plenty of time to recover from those exertions and, if his jumping holds together, it is hard to see anything good enough to live with him on Saturday.
2:40 Sandown: Dempsey (win)
3:20 Sandown: Alderburn (win)
3:55 Sandown: Final Verse (win)