GRANDOUET’S chasing debut is an obvious highlight at Sandown on Saturday but the card at Wincanton oozes quality from the first race through to the concluding bumper. If he stands up then Grandouet should win blindfolded, although nobody is going to get rich by backing him. Hinterland and Turn Over Sivola are no mugs and Sandown is also a tricky track for a first-time chaser so a watching brief is advised.
At Wincanton CALL ME A STAR reappears and she is a class mare (1.30). Even with 11st 11lb she could prove hard to beat – in fact the biggest danger could be if heavy overnight rain turns the ground soft. She needs decent ground to show her very best. I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up in the mares’ race at the Cheltenham Festival and on good ground she would have a solid each-way chance.
The Rising Stars Novices Chase has attracted a small but select field and sees the hugely promising Wonderful Charm, who impressed at Fakenham, take on THIRD INTENTION and chasing debutante Meister Eckhart. Experience could count here and Third Intention finished his race off strongly at Cheltenham last time, which he rarely did last season. I’m surprised he isn’t going for the Paddy Power Gold Cup.
If Melodic Rendezvous has Champion Hurdle aspirations he should be up to winning the Elite Hurdle. Cotton Mill is a decent yardstick and Karinga Dancer and Far West are full of potential. Fascinating race and a watching brief advised again.
The bumper is awash with dark horses. VAZARO DELAFAYETTE is highly regarded by the Pipe team and the experience gained at Cheltenham last month might give him the edge.
At Sandown Rebecca Curtis runs TARA ROAD who has been working well and is not short of speed. He could run very well in the bumper.
Lucinda Russell has her horses in tip-top form and she sends a strong team to Kelso. BLENHEIM BROOK has been targeted at the 2.15 and loves the course. He runs well fresh and today could be the day to catch him. RHYMERS HA’ has always impressed at home but hasn’t quite got it together on the track. As long as the ground isn’t too soft, he could take a big hand in the novice chase at 2.50.