A quality eight-race card has been assembled at Ladbrokes Park Sandown this Sunday.
The $300,000 Grand National Hurdle is the feature race on the program, and it’s no surprise to find French import Saunter Boy at very short odds.
The track is currently rated a Soft 6, the rail is in the true position, and our best bets can be found below.
Race 1 - 12:30pm
Crisp Steeplechase (4200m)
Flying Agent doesn’t win out of turn but he does look ready for the step up to 4200m now based on his recent effort.
After missing the start, the old boy by Raise The Flag was seen making up good late ground over 2400m here last start, and he should be rock-hard fit now with four runs under his belt.
He placed over this track and trip this time last year and was an impressive eight length winner only two runs back at the ‘Bool. The wetter the better for him, and he should be in this for the entirety.
2 Units Flying Agent
Race 2 - 1:10pm
Ladbrokes Mates Mode Handicap (1200m)
Niccolite looks set to peak now in her third run back for Grahame Begg.
The daughter of Nicconi is worth forgiving on her latest effort at Caulfield where she was caught three-wide in transit from a less-than ideal draw, and I think she can bounce-back given she finished only a narrow second to Ojosan the start prior.
That horse was far from disgraced in the Lightning Stakes at Morphettville last week, and this does look a slightly easier race back in class. She’s handled wet tracks before and the wide gate should see her get back and run on.
1 Unit Niccolite
Race 3 - 1:50pm
Ladbrokes Live Betting Handicap (1200m)
River Ribble was only beaten three-quarters of a length by recent hat-trick winner Thron Bone at Caulfield a fortnight ago, form that looks good for this.
The Freedman-trained colt was a dominant three-length winner the start prior at Cranbourne where he was ridden a peach by Jye McNeil, and he should be plenty fit now with a couple of runs under the belt.
Mark Zahra rode him on debut at Pakenham earlier int he year for a place, and from barrier 7, I think he’ll settle nice and handy.
2 Units River Ribble
Race 4 - 2:30pm
Ladbrokes It! Hurdle (3400m)
Chains Of Honour won his jumps debut at the ‘Bool two runs back and warrants plenty of respect given the reputation of the Maher and Eustace stable.
He was beaten eight lengths at Caulfield last-start in a race that really wasn’t run to suit, but with Steven Pateman back on board, I think he’ll bounce back.
He’d probably like the rain to hang around, but from barrier 8, he should be able to settle back and save his best for late.
1 Unit Chains Of Honour
Race 5 - 3:10pm
Grand National Hurdle (4200m)
Saunter Boy is the obvious choice here given his outstanding record at the jumps.
The Maher and Eustace-trained 10-year-old has won nine of his 12 starts over the hurdles, adding to his record a few weeks ago at Pakenham with an arrogant four-length win on a bottomless track.
He eats up these kinds of conditions and Steven Pateman knows the horse inside and out.
4 Units Saunter Boy
Race 6 - 3:45pm
Ladbrokes Switch Handicap (2100m)
Forest Diamond has raced well without winning of late and rates one of the main chances in a wide-open contest.
Ben Brisbourne’s mare was a winner four runs back at Echuca and has since gone on to run a place in her last three starts across Sandown, Flemington, and Caulfield.
She finished only two lengths off a smart type a couple of weeks ago and now finds herself dropping back to a much easier assignment. Her wet track gets a big tick, and if she can offset the wide draw early, she should be right in the finish.
1 Unit Forest Diamond
Race 7 - 4:20pm
Ladbrokes Market Control Handicap (1400m)
Minouche just lacked the polish in the dying stages at Caulfield last-start, a run she can only improve on third-up now.
The Godolphin mare overcame a wide run in transit to settle fourth entering the straight but simply didn’t have the fitness to go with the rest.
She should appreciate stepping out over 1400m again though, and she did place here at Sandown to begin her prep. Hard to know if the inside alley will suit, but some sting out of the track shouldn’t bother her.
1 Unit Minouche
Race 8 - 4:55pm
Ladbrokes Money Back Odds Handicap (1500m)
Tough race to end the day, but I think it’s one Seacole can win at a nice price.
The Not A Single Doubt mare was unlucky not to win over 1400m here two weeks ago where she was grabbed right on the line by Indented Head in the finish.
She’s been super honest all prep, winning over this distance at Mildura by nearly 1.5L back in April, and she tends to do her best racing on rain-affected ground.
2 Units E/W Seacole