There is an air of optimism starting to grow around the country as normal life starts to return and that includes fans being allowed into this weekend’s EFL Cup final. This coincides with an improvement in the weather and the handing of the baton from the jumps season to the flat. Sandown brings the curtain down on the British jumps season on Saturday and the ITV Racing cameras will be in attendance to capture the best of the action.
In addition to the action at Sandown, ITV are covering the racing from Haydock and Leicester. That provides punters with a nice variety of racing to enjoy and ample opportunities to beat the bookies. So, without further ado, let’s get stuck into this week’s Saturday Racing Tips.
1:55 bet365 Novices’ Championship Final Handicap Hurdle
Class 2, 2m
On a day on which there is racing from both codes it would be fitting should the first ITV race go the way of On To Victory for Alan King. While most of the horses that he faces in the Sandown opener will be off the track for a number of months now, the versatile On To Victory has several viable options open to him in the 2021 flat season.
King has been very happy with the way the seven year old has taken to hurdling. His jumping was good last time out at Warwick when he ran out an easy winner of a two mile contest on soft ground. His versatility also stretches to him being able to go on all types of different ground with some of his best flat form coming on faster surfaces so the good ground will not be an issue for On To Victory who, alongside Celestial Force and Royaume Uni is one of three horses available at odds of 6/1.
2:10 Elusive Bloodstock EBF Stallions King Richard III Stakes
The top two in the betting for the King Richard III Stakes – Lord Campari and Pogo – are the only two horses in the field who have yet to run this year. Mums Tipple has been kept busy on the all-weather, Shine So Bright got his turf season underway with a blow over six furlongs at Newmarket and Beat Le Bon has two recent runs on turf under his belt.
Still, it’s one of the horses who comes in cold who gets the nod. Pogo caught the eye on a number of occasions last season. Not only did he take steps forward throughout the campaign but he did so racing at between seven and nine furlongs. Charlie Hills’ five year old is still capable of taking another step forward and is the one to be on at odds of 2/1.
2:30 bet365 Oaksey Chase
Grade 2, 2m6½f
The final day of the jumps season provides a shot at redemption for many of the horses running at Sandown. Mister Fisher is one of those who has some making up to do having failed to complete at either Cheltenham or Aintree. The fact that he was entered into the Ryanair Chase and the Betway Bowl shows that connections believe he can crack it at the top level and he does have every chance of finally putting it all together on the good ground that he loves.
Although there are only four runners in the field for the Oaksey Chase, Mister Fisher certainly will not have things his own way in the presence of Frodon. Paul Nicholls’ nine year old will, as ever, be partnered with Bryony Frost and the Gold Cup fifth would be a popular winner. Frodon is too short at 4/6 though so the value very much lies with Mister Fisher at 7/4 even if he has proven to be a frustrating horse to follow this season.
2:50 Casumo Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap
Class 2, 7f
The sole ITV race from Haydock on Saturday comes in the form of a competitive handicap run over seven furlongs. Dreamloped and Persuasion head the betting at odds of 9/2 and 11/2 respectively but this looks a perfect contest for each way backers.
The horse to consider for each way support is Mustarrid for Ian Williams. The seven year old found life a bit tough last season but took advantage as his handicap mark dropped at Nottingham and still looks to be fairly well treated off a mark of 92 so the price of 14/1 very much appeals.
3:05 bet365 Celebration Chase
Grade 1, 1m7½f
What a fabulous renewal of the Celebration Chase we have in prospect on Saturday. The strength of the field was given a major boost when Nicky Henderson confirmed that Altior would be returning to Sandown in an attempt to win this race for the fourth year running. He clearly loves this ground and we all know that on his day Altior is one of the very best minimum distance chasers around. The problem is that the 11 year old’s best days look to be firmly behind him so with Put The Kettle On, Sceau Royal and Greaneteen all to beat, a bet on Altior may well be a case of the heart overruling the head.
Put The Kettle On’s win in the Champion Chase is right up there in the long list of seasonal highlights for Henry De Bromhead. She loved the ground on the day at Cheltenham and turned in a stunning performance to beat the undercooked odds-on favourite Chacun Pour Soi.
The ground could be critical to deciding the winner of the Celebration Chase as well. Despite a lot of watering in the lead up to the race the ground is sure to be good which is exactly what Sceau Royal wants. Alan King’s nine year old has had a very good season and was unfortunate not to finish better than fifth in the Champion Chase having almost fallen at the third last fence. A safer passage could see him win his first Grade 1 since the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase which is run over the same course and distance as the Celebration Chase.
3:40 bet365 Gold Cup Handicap Chase
Grade 3, 3m5f
This may be the end of the British jumps season but over in Ireland, there is still the small matter of next week’s Punchestown Festival. The draw of Punchestown was too big for Paul Nicholls to ignore when it came to Clan Des Obeaux who was withdrawn from the bet365 Gold Cup. That is a real shame for this historic race as it leaves Crosspark as the highest-rated horse in the field at 150.
The positive side of having a weak-looking field for a race of this magnitude is that it does make things that bit more competitive from a betting perspective, throwing up the chance of a longer odds winner. Just one of the last 10 winners went off bigger than 14/1 but could Irish Prophecy be about to change that trend? Emma Lavelle’s eight year old is a 16/1 shot so an each way bet is the best line of attack but the improvement that he’s shown over the course of the season suggests that he is well treated off a mark of 142 and could potentially go on to compete at a higher level than this.