Sandown, Musselburgh, Wetherby & Leopardstown Tips for 4th February 2023

Result: £-3.87 Results for Sandown, Musselburgh, Wetherby & Leopardstown Tips for 4th February 2023

Not long to go now, with the 2023 Cheltenham Festival getting underway in a little over five weeks’ time. There is however plenty of quality racing action between now and the big March showpiece. Armchair racing fans are in for a real treat this coming Saturday, with ITV set to screen no fewer than 10 cracking contests, across four courses, for our viewing and punting pleasure.

The broadcaster will likely need to call upon their full squadron of presenters and commentary teams, with live action being screened from England, Scotland and Ireland. The five contests from Sandown are headlined by the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase. The second of the day’s top-tier events then comes from Ireland, and Leopardstown, with what looks a high-class renewal of the Irish Gold Cup. Throw in the Edinburgh National at Musselburgh and the excellent Towton Novices Chase from Wetherby, and you have a day not to be missed. Here we run through each of the 10 contests and pick out our best betting options in this week’s Saturday Racing Tips.

1:10 Virgin Bet Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

Class 3, 2m4f


The opening event from Sandown tends to fall to a smaller training operation. Of the big guns of the sport, only Nicky Henderson has prevailed since the race made its debut in 2015. Overall, we see that trend continuing in 2023, as the Milton Harris-trained Twinjets looks the one they all have to beat. Heading into the race seeking a hattrick, the mount of Harry Cobden was nine lengths too good for main market rival Twin Power last time out, and a 6lb turnaround in the weights may not be enough for that Paul Nicholls runner to reverse the placings.

1:28 bet365 Frodon Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase

Class 3, 2m4½f

Halo Des Obeaux

The Laura Morgan-trained Notlongtilmay and Irish raider Drumbear are currently vying for favouritism in the TV opener from Musselburgh. The current form of Morgan is however a slight concern (no placings and three pulled-up runners over the past fortnight) whilst Drumbear’s opening chase handicap mark of 138 is fully 16lb above his career high hurdles rating.

Take a chance instead on the Paul Nicholls-trained Halo Des Obeaux who has been dropped 1lb for a solid second to the well-handicapped Tea For Free last time out. We fancy he definitely has the ability to go one better in what looks a slightly weaker contest.

1:45 Virgin Bet Dolos Handicap Chase

Class 2, 1m7½f


Stick with Nicholls in this next contest, and side with the 10-year-old, Dolos, to rather fittingly win the race named in his honour. The mount of Harry Cobden boasts form figures of 21121 in this event, with those wins coming off marks of 149, 157, and 143. A current rating of 146, therefore, looks to give him every chance of adding a fourth win to his CV.

As the class act in the field, he will be saddled with 12st on the day, but having shouldered 11st12lb to victory twice in this race, that may not be enough to stop him. Emma Lavelle’s Red Rookie looks the main danger having won on his only previous visit to this track. At 9/2 some may prefer that option but it’s the favourite for us here to further cement his place in the history of this race.

2:03 bet365 Edinburgh National Handicap Chase

Class 2, 3m7½f

Flower of Scotland

We head back up north to Musselburgh next for the big staying handicap of the afternoon, with the prospect of heavy showers on Saturday morning set to make this 3m7½f even more of a slog. There are certainly plenty in with chances here, including the Paul Nicholls-trained Truckers Lodge, who gets a drop in the handicap for a solid fourth in the Welsh Grand National last time out. Also of interest are top-weight Slipway, and the Ian Williams-trained Tide Times.

The one to just get our vote in a competitive heat is Sandy Thompson’s Borders National winner, Flower Of Scotland. Having previously shown plenty of promise, the step up to a marathon trip saw the eight-year-old unleash her full potential that day at Kelso, as she cruised clear for a six-length success. Given two months off to recover from those exertions, an 8lb rise in the handicap may not prevent her from following up at what looks a very nice price to us.

2:20 Virgin Bet Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase

Grade 1, 2m4f

Thunder Rock EW

Gordon Elliott’s unbeaten Gerri Colombe looks the obvious one here, having landed a Grade 1 in good style last time out at Limerick. It has however been mentioned by connections on numerous occasions that this horse needs genuinely soft ground, which is far from guaranteed. If conditions are deemed suitable, he rates the one to beat, but as things stand, we just prefer an each-way punt on Olly Murphy’s Thunder Rock.

This one did well to finish as close as he did in The Dipper Novices Chase considering his usually excellent jumping fell to pieces early in the race. Such was the promise shown in his previous success at Ascot that we are happy to forgive that effort, and he can go close if overcoming those concentration issues.

2:40 William Hill Towton Novices’ Chase

Grade 2, 3m


The feature event on the Wetherby card has been won by some smart sorts in recent times, with Gold Cup contender Ahoy Senor landing the prize for Lucinda Russell 12 months ago. Whether or not Dan Skelton’s Ballygrifincottage ends up anywhere near Gold Cup standard remains to be seen, but we fancy he may be well up to taking this.

The best of the British runners when fourth in last season’s Albert Bartlett hurdle, he always looked built for fences and delivered on that assessment when hammering the useful Beauport on chase debut at Haydock. This demands improvement, but the eight-year-old looks the most exciting runner in the field for our money and can come home in front at the main expense of Nicky Henderson’s City Chief.

2:55 Virgin Bet Heroes Handicap Hurdle

Premier Handicap, 2m7½f

Schalke EW

This competitive handicap contest tends to fall to an improving runner in the bottom half of the handicap, with six of the seven previous editions falling to a horse carrying 10st10lb or less on the day, but still running off a career-high mark. A proven ability to stay this trip also counts as a plus, and one horse to tick all three boxes is the Rebecca Menzies-trained, Schalke.

Last sighted when readily winning over just shy of this trip at Kelso, he arrives in excellent heart, and with 5lb claiming jockey Aaron Anderson taking over in the saddle, much of his 8lb hike in the handicap is cancelled out. At a double-figure price, the eight-year-old looks solid value to at least make the frame and he offers a really nice slice of each-way value here.

3:05 Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup

Grade 1, 3m

Galopin Des Champs

Easily the classiest contest of the day takes place over in Ireland, as the outright favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup takes his place in the line-up for the Irish equivalent. Sure to provide a fascinating spectacle, the race doesn’t make for the most interesting betting heat, with Galopin Des Champs priced at just 1/3.

He is fully 12lb and more clear of the field on official ratings, and was devastatingly impressive on his seasonal return in the John Durkan Chase. It will be something of a surprise to see him beaten and even at a short price, we can’t really oppose him. With just the seven going to post, the race loses much of its each-way appeal, but National Hunt Chase winner Stattler looks most likely to fill the runners-up spot, whilst Grand National runner-up Any Second Now could go well at a really big price.

3:16 bet365 Scottish County Handicap Hurdle

Class 2, 1m7½f

Kihavah EW

The final contest of the day from north of the border has strongly favoured the younger contenders, with all bar one of the previous nine editions going to a runner aged six or younger. Interestingly, applying that trend to this year’s field whittles the list of runners down to just four.

Of that quartet, the Paul Nicholls-trained Grivetana and Donald McCain’s Collingham are the shortest in the market. However, Grivetana is far from the most consistent sort, whilst Collingham has work to do to turn the tables on stablemate Nayati.

Take a chance instead on Adrian Keatley’s course and distance winner, Kihavah. A winner of the Scottish Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at this meeting 12 months ago, he looked in need of the run on the back of a mini-break in January but showed much more when fifth on the flat last time out. Back over jumps, at a track which suits him well, he may not be far away at a nice each-way price.

3:30 Virgin Bet Masters Handicap Chase

Class 2, 3m

Movethechains EW

This competitive staying handicap from Sandown provides the conclusion to an excellent day of action, with a decent case to be made for at least a half dozen of these. Empire Steel and Rapper make obvious appeal, despite being shouldered with the maximum burden of 12st, whilst the hattrick-seeking Bangers And Cash takes a slight step up in class but could hardly arrive in better form.

However, with the vast majority of firms paying out on the first four, it is an each-way punt for us here, and the one to carry the cash is Movethechains from the yard of Gary Moore. Heading into the season seeking a five-timer, a fifth-place finish in the Welsh National was a perfectly respectable effort for his comeback run. Back down to his ideal trip of 3m, he still looks fairly treated off 127 to our eyes and looks solid value at a double-figure price.