Friday, 1 February 2013

Captain Conan the star attraction at Sandown

Sandown and Ffos Las stage the pick of tomorrow's action and I shall be travelling to Sandown for a now all chase card after the hurdles course was found to be waterlogged after substantial rain during the week but full marks to the staff for adding three extra chases to ensure a full days racing takes place at the Esher venue.

Captain Conan has been held in the highest regard by Nicky Henderson returns to the scene of his impressive win in the Henry II Novice Chase in December as he steps up to 2m4f for the first time in Sandown Park's feature race of the day the grade 1 Silly Isles Novice Chase a race won by three time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Best Mate back in 2001. Jockey Barry Geraghty expects his mount to relish the step up in trip and connections have no worries about the prospect of heavy going and with only three rivals that have not shown anything near the level of Captian Conan's for and this giant 6yo looks nailed on to make it 3/3 over fences.

The Betfred Masters Handicap Chase formally known as The Gainsbrough Chase was once a recognised Cheltenham Gold Cup trial and won by the likes of Bregawn, Burragh Hill Lad and Desert Orchid in the past but sadly the race no longer has any bearing on the Gold Cup. This years race sees Nicky Henderson's sole Grand National entry Roberto Goldback head the weights but has a stiff task giving lumps of weight to Mister Hyde from Jonjo O'Neills stable and the Paul Nicholls Keppols Hill.

Britains newest racecourse Ffos Las in West Wales stage possibly the best days racing since the track opened in 2009 and owner Dai Walters will be hoping his own horse Tanerko Emery who should relish the heavy ground and step up in trip can land the Welsh Champion Hurdle but he has by no means a easy task with the impressive Lanzarote Hurdle winner Oscara Dara and the Alan King trained Border Success among the opposition in this very competitive limited handicap hurdle.

The West Wales National only being run for the second time and the David Pipe Junior tops the weights but interestingly improving stablemate Shaking Hands gets into the race of only 10 stone. Other interesting entries are Haydock specialist Cannington Brook and Donald McCain's improving novice Red Rocco.

The other NH card of the day is at Wetherby with the feature race the Towton Novice Chase and a intriging entry is the David Pipe trainer Goulanes who was a winner over hurdles on Paddy Power Gold Cup day and is pitched in here on his chasing debut at grade 2 level.

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