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Richard Hoiles: 5 picks for the Saturday before Cheltenham

08 Mar | BY Richard Hoiles | MIN READ TIME |
Richard Hoiles: 5 picks for the Saturday before Cheltenham

The racing broadcaster picks out two horses from the big handicap hurdles at Sandown, plus three from elsewhere on Saturday.

Hardly the calm before the Cheltenham storm this weekend, with two very competitive handicap hurdles at Sandown.

At 13:50 the EBF Final, which last year was won by leading Stayers hurdle hope Crambo and threw up eight next-time-out winners, showing how it can be full of horses that are potentially ahead of the handicapper.

The most obvious one looks to be HASTHING / off the back of a negative ride at Newbury where he never got involved. That saw his mark left unchanged and gave him the third hurdling run needed to qualify for this race. On his bumper form, 119 looks a decent mark and even though there will be others in this race more than capable of winning off their marks, Hasthing could be well ahead of his.

An even more valuable pot is on offer for the £100,000 Imperial Cup, where the Betfair Hurdle form, which will also be well represented at Cheltenham, is put to the test. GO DANTE / (14:25 Sandown) finished third that day with Faivoir (fifth) and Knickerbockerglory (sixth) in behind. Faivoir looked to have been being lined up for a repeat County Hurdle bid, so the fact he runs here with Harry Skelton choosing him over Knickerbockerglory could be significant.

The latter will likely have his ground as it always seems to ride deep on the Sandown hurdles track, but Go Dante has impressed with his attitude under pressure, which could prove a major asset up the hill where races often seem to fall apart. He would have won more easily at Cheltenham but for a mistake at the last and runs off the same mark as his placing last time. With Iberico Lord (Champion), L’Eau Du Sud (County) and Doddiethegreat (Coral and Martin Pipe) all horses in action at the Festival from the same race, it could be a key line of form for the week ahead.

Earlier on the afternoon, KARTOON AND CO / (13:15 Sandown) was only beaten two lengths by Givemefive at Market Rasen and Harry Derham’s horse is now rated 129, so a mark of 109 for Kartoon and Co catches the eye.

Up at Ayr, Stuart Crawford sends over a strong raiding party and PARK ANNOCIADE / (15:08 Ayr) is the pick in the 2m handicap hurdle. The stiffer track should suit better than Musselburgh and this looks an easier assignment.

In the evening, ENDOSSER / (18:00 Chelmsford) can put his experience to good use in the 10f maiden. Several good stables are represented, including some with lofty price tags, but their charges all looked particularly raw on debut and may still need more time to be seen to best effect.


Our regular weekly list of those jockeys riding at tracks where they have a good career record in terms of actual winners ridden compared to the prices their mounts have started. Rossa Ryan again makes an appearance at Wolverhampton having ridden a treble (expected wins 1.12) there last Saturday.

HEREFORD – Richard Patrick (18/84, A/E 1.50) has three rides including El Granjero (13:42) who makes his handicap debut in the opener.

WOLVERHAMPTON – Rossa Ryan (139/702, A/E 1.28) has four rides including Kingdom Come (15:15) in the Lincoln trial, one of the six races shown on ITV.


There are no stable tracker horses in action today. You can read the latest update here.


(Actual Winners / Expected Winners.  Par = 1.00)

Selections: 5/6.26, A/E 0.80

Jockeys For Courses: 13/12.72,  A/E 1.02

Stable Tracker Horses: 5/4.52, A/E 1.11

Total Column Performance: 23/23.50, A/E 0.98

Richard Hoiles

Richard Hoiles

Richard is a horse racing broadcaster and commentator who has been involved in the sport since 1992.

Richard Hoiles

Richard Hoiles

Richard is a horse racing broadcaster and commentator who has been involved in the sport since 1992.