AFTER 361 days of waiting, there are now just four days to go until the Cheltenham Festival and Saturday is the last real chance to boost the coffers.
Sandown’s highlight is the Matchbook Imperial Cup (3.00pm), a race which dangles a £50,000 carrot if the winner goes on to taste success in the Cotswolds the following week.
The last one to land the bonus was David Pipe’s Gaspara a decade ago and the Pipe family have a rich history in this race, winning it nine times.
Max Do Brazil is the sole entry from the Nicholashayne yard.
He was an expensive purchase from France and even though he was pulled up on his debut for the stable at Cheltenham in January it would be folly to rule him out given his connections.
That said, I can’t back him following that run and instead will take a chance on WILLIAM H BONNEY, who won that same race at Prestbury Park.
Alan King made the decision to go for the Betfair Hurdle two weeks later, but admitted afterwards that it had come too soon.
I’m willing to forgive him that run and the handicapper has dropped him 3lbs, which means he is now just a couple of pounds higher than for that win at Cheltenham.
He looks one of the most solid contenders here so take the 11/2 with 188BET, who are refunding fallers up to £25 on all ITV4 races tomorrow.
Although this isn’t the strongest renewal, it is still an open contest and I am tempted by Bigmartre at 16/1.
He won at Kempton on his reappearance with William H Bonney and a number of other decent horses behind.
But my selection turned the tables on him at Cheltenham and trainer Harry Whittington has been struggling with a bug in the yard. That is enough to put me off.
In the EBF Final (1.50pm), I like the look of Nick Williams’ MAN FROM MARS.
The five-year-old is making his handicap debut in this and he’s improved in all three starts over hurdles, finishing second to Burbank at Huntingdon last time.
The step up in trip is certain to suit and 14/1 with 188BET looks a more than fair each-way price.
Warren Greatrex won last year’s EBF Listed mares’ bumper (3.35pm) with The Nipper and he’ll be hoping for back-to-back successes, this time with Petticoat Tails.
She has been impressive on both of her starts, but will have her work cut out to beat FAYONAGH if Gordon Elliott decides to send her over.
This daughter of Kalanisi destroyed her rivals by 20 lengths at Fairyhouse last month and can land this despite her 4lb penalty.
My final selection has three entries on tomorrow’s card and her most likely assignment looks to be the closing 2m4f handicap chase (4.45pm).
Michael Scudamore has had a brilliant few weeks, winning decent races like the Devon National and Eider Chase.
His mare TWENTY EIGHT GUNS has won her last two starts and looks to be a progressive chaser.
Although she’s risen in the weights, that is fully justified and I’d expect her to prove difficult to get past in this company.
Last year’s winner Morning Reggie is 4lbs lower than 12 months ago so he could be the one to beat.
Man From Mars e/w 1.50pm Sandown
William H Bonney 3.00pm Sandown
Fayonagh 3.35pm Sandown
Twenty Eight Guns 4.45pm Sandown