The Masters Handicap Chase at Sandown looks very competitive and little surprise the bookies have priced up ten of the twelve runners between the odds of 6/1 & 12/1 bracket. There is over 31k to the winner and that is a tempting prize indeed for these good handicappers. Let’s jump in and narrow down that list of ten leaving out the two outsiders who will find life very tough at Class 2 level.
The official going description is good/soft but let’s be realistic and call it soft as we know from experience that is as good as it will be! Top Weight Hadrian’s Approach has course and distance form but hiding little form the handicapper off 152 and can jump indifferently. Sandown Park and especially the three close together fences at the end of the back straight, better known as the “railway fences”, offer a thorough jumping test even for the most experienced of chasers.
Via Sundown looks well handicapped on his best form but unseated last time out and folded tamely at Ascot previously. This track has a stiff uphill finish so he’s out! Theres No Panic and Just a Par run for Paul Nicholls but I think Theres No Panic needs better ground while Just a Par looks second string on jockey bookings with STD deserting him. Cantlow is really well handicapped on past form but has not run well for some time and saves his best for good ground.
Ardkilly Witness finished second in this race last year but competes of a 6lb higher mark this time round having been lumped with 7lbs extra for a short head victory last time out. Le Reve is very interesting and deserves his place at the front of the market having ran a cracker when third behind The Young Master in December. The ground will most likely find him out and he’s one to keep in mind for some other day.
We’re down to three and let’s get rid of Venetia Williams runner Bennys Mist as I can never get her runners on a going day. Venetia trained runners excel on winter ground and will the ground be heavy enough for Bennys Mist tomorrow? Not worth the chance despite a good effort over the Grand National fences at Aintree in December. Bertie Boru will enjoy the trip and has no stamina concerns. He finished second behind Unionist over course and distance last time out and that is good form even if beaten a full 10 lengths. He has little in hand on the handicapper.
Finally, we arrive at our destination! Theatrical Star ran the best race of his life in a Class 1 Grade Three Handicap at Warwick last time out. He found the well handicapped Hawkes Point too good that day but jumped super and stayed on well up the straight. A 2lb rise in the rating from 137 to 139 is fair and he must go close if turning up in similar form. Last year he finished strongly having lost his position to be third in this same race but that was on heavy ground and this son of King’s Theatre will enjoy the better ground albeit soft this time round.
Selection – 1 Point Each Way Theatrical Star Sandown 15:35 @ 7/1 generally
Best of luck,