Sandown Saturday Preview - 11/03/23

James Mackie | @jamesmackieee

Sandown - March 11 2023
Sandown 13:15
Jonathan Burke


J: Jonathan Burke
T: Milton Harris
Age: 4
Weight: 11-0
OR: 103
Days: 37

The first race of the afternoon from the Esher track is the Juvenile Handicap Hurdle and we like the outsider of the field Havaila for Milton Harris.

A horse that has shown glimpses of form this season and has been waiting for really testing ground and on Saturday he now gets a crack at it.

Rated 76 on the flat for Sir Michael Stoute, he switched to Milton Harris and was sent hurdling in November at Fontwell when not jumping well at all and needing the experience, also not fond of the good ground.

Putting up a better performance on soft ground next time out over C&D at Sandown when second to rival Penna Rossa by just under two lengths.

Stepped up into the Grade Two Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow over Christmas and finding most the field a bit too good, he was last seen up in trip over 2m4f at Wincanton when a fair sixth of 17 runners in a Handicap Hurdle.

Getting weight off most the field and getting his ideal conditions, he could cause a shock at 12/1.

Sandown - March 11 2023
Sandown 13:50
Harry Skelton


J: Harry Skelton
T: Dan Skelton
Age: 6
Weight: 11-1
OR: 119
Days: 44

One of the big races from Sandown is the Grade Three Novices' Hurdle Handicap Hurdle Final and we like the look of the Dan Skelton trained Etalon.

Sent hurdling in November at Warwick when second to a nice type in Gunnery Officer, he then went to Aintree and again settled for second, chasing home the very talented Strong Leader for Olly Murphy.

Strong Leader franked the form and so did Etalon getting off the mark for his career at Wetherby last time out in a 17 runner Novices' Hurdle, bolting up by seven lengths.

Making his Handicap debut on Saturday off a mark of 129 looks lenient, especially with the ground conditions set to suit this improving gelding.

Sandown - March 11 2023
Sandown 14:25
Aidan Coleman

Zoffany Bay

J: Aidan Coleman
T: Peter Fahey
Age: 9
Weight: 10-10
OR: 125
Days: 21

The feature race of the afternoon from Sandown is the Betfair Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle over two miles and with 18 runners going to post we have picked out two chances at each way prices.

The first is the Irish raider Zoffany Bay for Peter Fahey with the trainer winning this race last year with Surprise Package.

Zoffany Bay had his first run for the yard and first run for almost two years last time out at Ascot when second to the talented Irish Hill in a valuable handicap at Ascot.

Raised only 3lbs for that run to a mark of 125, if not bouncing for his second run after so long off he looks to have more up his sleeve and getting testing conditions will play to his strengths having won a Listed Handicap in France on heavy ground.

Looks like an Irish plot job.

Sandown - March 11 2023
Sandown 14:25
Harry Cobden


J: Harry Cobden
T: Paul Nicholls
Age: 5
Weight: 11-3
OR: 132
Days: 63

For the British we like the look of the Paul Nicholls trained Iceo who was bought by Chris Giles and given to Nicholls after being a taking winner at Dieppe in August 2021, he then made his British debut at Kempton when bolting up by 17 lengths in a Juvenile Hurdle on soft ground.

Sent into deeper waters next time out at Cheltenham's Trial Day meeting in late January of last year he finished fourth behind the very talented Pied Piper.

Rounding off last season again in Grade Two company at Kempton in the Dovecote Novices' Hurdle, he finished a close up fourth behind some talented horses.

Sent handicapping this term making his seasonal debut over two miles at Sandown in January, he ran a cracker on soft ground to finish a good second behind Hardy Du Seuil.

Nicholls has explained that the ground on Saturday will suit, he needed the run last time out so will strip much fitter for this and only 1lb higher running off a mark of 132, he looks a serious player.

Big improver.

Sandown - March 11 2023
Sandown 15:00
Sam Twiston-Davies

Casa No Mento

J: Sam Twiston-Davies
T: Nigel Twiston-Davies
Age: 5
Weight: 11-2
Days: 40

Another race we have two running for us in the event is the Listed Mares' Bumper over two miles and this looks a competitive affair on heavy ground.

The first horse we think can go close is the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Casa No Mento who was a 2m PTP winner at Bangor in March 2022 winning well on heavy ground.

Showing she prefers testing conditions, she made her rules debut at Hereford at the end of January when again bolting up by 12 lengths.

This mare is getting her perfect conditions and looks to have more improvement to come.

Sandown - March 11 2023
Sandown 15:00
Jack Quinlan

Mercian Omen

J: Jack Quinlan
T: Amy Murphy
Age: 5
Weight: 11-2
Days: 108

A horse at a bigger price that takes the eye in the Mares' Listed Bumper is the Amy Murphy trained Mercian Omen who has only been seen once to date but it was a very taking debut.

Ran at Wetherby on yard/rules debut back in November the mare learnt a lot on the job, with the penny dropping the further she went and in the heavy ground she ran on brilliantly to be narrowly beaten by a nice type for James Moffatt.

It was a real learning experience for this mare and if she has improved since then she could look a big price at 11s, showing she is already proven on this ground.

Sandown - March 11 2023
Sandown 15:35
Sean Bowen

No Risk Des Flos

J: Sean Bowen
T: Olly Murphy
Age: 8
Weight: 11-7
OR: 139
Days: 44

Next up from Sandown comes the Grade Three Novices' Handicap Chase over 2m4f and No Risk Des Flos could go close for Olly Murphy.

Sent chasing this season having been an average hurdler the season before, he has shown decent ability in the majority of his four starts, with the best run of his career coming on heavy ground.

Racing behind the likes of Datsalrightgino and Calico on his chase debut at Chepstow when finishing fourth, he then went to Wetherby on heavy ground and got off the mark in good style beating a nice type for the Skelton's by seven lengths.

Upped to 134 over the same course and distance he couldn't replicate the performance unfortunately putting in a lesser run, but last time out he bounced back to his best, stepping up in trip to 2m 3 1/2f at Wetherby to win nicely off 134.

Getting 3lb off the favourite on Saturday and revelling in the step up in trip last time out, he deserves his chance in this one.

Sandown - March 11 2023
Sandown 16:10
Luca Morgan

Mucho Mas

J: Luca Morgan
T: Ben Pauling
Age: 7
Weight: 11-4
OR: 125
Days: 80

The penultimate race of the afternoon in Esher is the Handicap Chase over three miles and Mucho Mas for Ben Pauling should give another good account of himself.

A highly consistent animal since being sent chasing this term making his chase debut at Bangor in October when second on debut behind Arizona Cardinal by a neck.

Upped 2lb for that second to a mark of 118, he was next seen at Lingfield tackling soft ground and he ran another cracker to finish second again, this time behind the talented Bill Baxter who has since franked he form in a better race.

The making of Mucho Mas this season has been the step up in trip as last time out on his first try at 2m7 1/2f over fences he went back to Lingfield on heavy ground and landed a decent Novices' Handicap Chase, revelling in the extra trip.

He beat a nice horse in Autonomous Cloud that day and only 5lb higher racing off 125 on Saturday, he looks to have plenty in his favour.

Heavy ground will suit again.

Sandown - March 11 2023
Sandown 16:45
Stan Sheppard

Nocte Volatus

J: Stan Sheppard
T: Tom Lacey
Age: 8
Weight: 11-13
OR: 131
Days: 21

The final race of the afternoon is the Handicap Chase over 2m4f and we are giving a chance to the Tom Lacey trained Nocte Volatus to get back to form.

Seen three times this season having reached a mark of 132 for the wins he put together last season, he was second on seasonal debut this term over 2m5f at Hereford, getting beat by a nice type for Peter Bowen in Equus Dancer.

Sent to Cheltenham in January at Festival Trials meeting, he finished a fair sixth of 16 in the Grade Three Paddy Power Handicap Chase won by Il Ridoto.

A poor performance when last seen at Ascot when ninth of 14 in the Swinley Handicap Chase he needs to put that behind him here.

However, now racing off 2lb lower than that race at a mark of 131, getting back to softer ground and a much easier race, he looks to have been placed to go well.