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Matthew Sutcliffe’s Value Punts – Saturday, 9th March

Golden Son

Matty Sutcliffe hit the crossbar with a couple of efforts last weekend, but returns for one last crack at this weekend’s action ahead of the 2024 Cheltenham Festival.

Published: 10:21am, Tuesday, 5th March (Odds correct at time of publication)

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2:25 Sandown – Betfair Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4yo+) – Norman Fletcher 20/1 1pt EW 4 places 

Nigel Twiston Davies has won two of the last seven renewals of the Imperial Cup, and NORMAN FLETCHER can enhance that record. The five-year-old son of No Risk At All was well beaten in midfield in the Betfair Hurdle last time out, but that was his first experience of a big-field handicap and he’ll have undoubtedly come on for that. He wasn’t suited by being held up in behind a wall of horses as his jumping was put to the task, so hopefully a return to prominent tactics will see him in a better light this time around. 

He showed a tendency to jump sharply out to his right on hurdles debut when a beaten 1/4F, and his record going right-handed when completing reads 121 so he could be more suited to going this way now in a bigger field. The handicapper dropped him 4lb for that effort but his mark of 122 looks workable on earlier form and given the yard has won this with two claimer-ridden horses, I’d expect James Turner to take the reigns and shave a further 7lb off. 

The ground at Sandown is currently heavy after a recent deluge of rain which won’t hinder his chances given he won on heavy at Aintree, but he’s won on good and good-to-soft so if the drying forecast holds up then he’ll have no issues there either. His overall record reads 2181F21120 with the two outliers (when completing) coming at Newbury, so it may be best to forgive this previously progressive five-year-old for last time out and trust he’s improved further for that experience in a similar scenario this time around, providing they return to prominent tactics.

3:35 Sandown – Betfair Serial Winners Fund Novices’ Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5yo+) – Golden Son 7/2 1.5pt WIN 

The return to a right-handed track and the addition of cheek-pieces saw GOLDEN SON return to form in good style at Kempton, and that form took a big boost when the second, Heltenham, won the Grade 3 Greatwood Handicap Chase off 130 with something to spare last weekend. Golden Son gave him 3lb there so he looks well-handicapped in here with just a 2lb rise for that win last time out. Prior to his two non-completions going left-handed, he was three lengths behind the highly regarded Iroko at Warwick with Kilbeg King seventeen lengths in behind, who has subsequently finished third in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase and beaten a head in the Grade 2 Reynoldstown, and is now rated 142. This further suggests that Golden Son has plenty of scope off 137. With Cobden already booked, the intent of turning up appears to be there and I’d imagine 7/2 will look big come Saturday.

Added: 2:15pm, Thursday, 7th March (Odds correct at time of publication)

1:50 Sandown – European Breeders’ Fund Betfair ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final (Premier H’cap) (GBB) (Class 1) (4-7yo) – Taras Halls (16/1 Generally, 25/1 William Hill) 1pt EW 5 places 

If you were to back all of Sue Smith’s runners in March to a £1 stake you would have a healthy return of £60.63, and with the yard amongst the winners I’d imagine TARAS HALLS will run a solid race with him representing the yard’s sole runner on the day. 

This race has a habit of throwing up a potentially smart stayer and Taras Halls can improve beyond his opening mark of 117 on handicap debut. The son of Yeats improved for the step up to today’s distance at Newcastle when a clear seven lengths second to Ben Paulings Handstands, who boosted that form next time out in taking the Listed Sidney Banks Novice Hurdle, is now rated 136, and is in the mix of the Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham next week. He was then second to another promising horse of Ben Pauling’s at Doncaster who re-opposes here, but we have a 7lb swing in the weights for a six-length gap with that one, who is much shorter in the market. 

The ground is set to be on the softer side, which will bring stamina in to play over this stiff 2m4f, and that should suit Taras Halls, who is a half brother to the same connections’ O’Connell, who was a one-length fourth on the Lincolnshire National over 3m3½F, and a winner over 3m on soft ground. 

2:25 Sandown – Betfair Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4yo+) – Sans Bruit 10/1 1pt WIN 

Unfortunately Norman Fletcher wasn’t declared for Nigel Twiston-Davies, but I’m keen to throw another dart at the Imperial Cup with SANS BRUIT. Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden have teamed up to win two of the last four renewals of this race, both with French-bred horses and Sans Bruit can add to their record. The son of Triple Threat was entitled to come on for his first run for the yard at Doncaster last time out where the ground was likely lively enough for him. He made the running under Bryony Frost that day setting a good tempo, and was still travelling best of all coming to two out before weakening under tender handling up the straight. 

With that run under his belt I’d expect a much fitter horse this time around and the soft/heavy ground will be much more to his liking, and given three of his top four RPR’s in France came second time up after a break, that backs up the suspicion. He has been dropped 2lb for that run last time out but a mark of 132 looks workable on some of his French form, particularly that with our other Nicholls bet this week, Golden Son, who is now rated 145 over hurdles on this side of the sea. 

Crucially, the hood he wore in France (5/6 wins came in it) has been reapplied which may signal the intent of much improved performance from last time out, and I’d expect a bold bid from the front under Cobden.


Matty Sutcliffe’s Value Punts

2:25 Sandown – Betfair Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4yo+) – Norman Fletcher 20/1 1pt EW 4 places 

3:35 Sandown – Betfair Serial Winners Fund Novices’ Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5yo+) – Golden Son 7/2 1.5pt WIN 

Added Thursday

1:50 Sandown – European Breeders’ Fund Betfair ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final (Premier H’cap) (GBB) (Class 1) (4-7yo) – Taras Halls (16/1 Generally, 25/1 William Hill) 1pt EW 5 places 

2:25 Sandown – Betfair Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4yo+) – Sans Bruit 10/1 1pt WIN 


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