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13:50 Sandown

Soft

Read Nicky Henderson’s Unibet Blog Handicap Chase (GBB Race)

  • Prize money: £20812
  • 2m 4f 10y
  • Class 2
  • 8 runners
ITV4
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Read Nicky Henderson’s Unibet Blog Handicap Chase (GBB Race)

Runners: 8 runners

Type: Chase Turf

Surface: Turf

Weather: Mostly cloudy

Form: 3-1554 D

Last run: 15 days

W: 12st 0lb

9 yo Gelding

OR: 141

Form & Verdict

Started season well with Listed novice win at Chepstow (2m3f, soft) and respectable fifth in the Paddy Power at Cheltenham, but two runs since have been disappointing and Harry Skelton jumps ship to ride Heltenham.

Place /
No / Draw
Date / Going /
Distance / Class
Time + Course Horse + Weight
Jockey / Trainer
Verdict Starting price

9th

3

27th Jan 2024

Good To Soft

2m 4f 127y

Class 2

12:40 Cheltenham

Unexpected Party

11st 8lb

J: Fergus Gillard

T: Dan Skelton

Has been chasing since November 2022, sole win coming in 2m3f Listed race (soft) in October this term; often highly tried but he never seriously threatened when third off much the same mark in this race last year, his only previous handicap chase, and he wasn't in peak form last two outings.

14/1

1

27th Dec 2023

Good

2m 0f 0y

Class 1

13:55 Kempton

Unexpected Party

11st 9lb

T: Dan Skelton

OUR TIP

Form: P11-P5 D

Last run: 14 days

W: 11st 10lb

9 yo Gelding

OR: 137

Form & Verdict

Hit-and-miss profile, successful three times last season but pulling up on his other two starts; hasn't given his running in two outings this term, never a threat at Ascot two weeks ago; others have less to prove.

Place /
No / Draw
Date / Going /
Distance / Class
Time + Course Horse + Weight
Jockey / Trainer
Verdict Starting price

1

9th Feb 2024

Good To Soft

3m 0f 0y

Class 3

15:40 Kempton

Black Gerry

12st 2lb

J: Niall Houlihan

T: Gary Moore

Has a question mark over current form but now drops back in grade off 2lb below last winning mark; however, has something to prove back up in distance, having never won beyond 2m3f.

9/1

5th

3

23rd Dec 2023

Good To Soft

2m 2f 175y

Class 2

13:50 Ascot

Black Gerry

11st 6lb

J: Niall Houlihan

T: Gary Moore

Won five out of eight chase completions and was better than ever in the spring when winning here (2m1f, good to soft) and Plumpton (2m3f, soft); highly tried on Cheltenham reappearance where he never made a forward move and called it a day three out but this looks more his level; involved.

5/1

Form: 23-811 C

Last run: 10 days

W: 11st 10lb

9 yo Gelding

OR: 137

Form & Verdict

Fine servant over the years with 12 wins, the latest coming when pulling clear with the runner-up in a small field at Chepstow (2m3f, soft) ten days ago; nudged up another 3lb and this race is more competitive, but blinkers seem to have given him a new lease of life lately and he likes Sandown.

Place /
No / Draw
Date / Going /
Distance / Class
Time + Course Horse + Weight
Jockey / Trainer
Verdict Starting price

4th

2

24th Feb 2024

Heavy

2m 0f 11y

Class 2

15:43 Chepstow

Quel Destin

11st 13lb

J: Bryony Frost

T: Paul Nicholls

led, outpaced and headed before 5 out, weakened after 4 out, tailed off

15/8

Form: 31F-72 D

Last run: 28 days

W: 11st 7lb

9 yo Gelding

OR: 134

Form & Verdict

Last month's 14l second of nine at Aintree (2m4f, heavy) was a step back in the right direction and he's now only 2lb higher than when scooting up in a small field at Exeter (3m, good) last winter; could have a say.

Place /
No / Draw
Date / Going /
Distance / Class
Time + Course Horse + Weight
Jockey / Trainer
Verdict Starting price

5

24th Feb 2024

Soft

2m 4f 110y

Class 2

16:10 Kempton

Gustavian

11st 5lb

J: Sam Twiston-Davies

T: Anthony Honeyball

Sole win from 13 chases came in a three-runner race last February; had wind surgery in July and his four runs since have not seen him in top form, the latest being his first hurdle race since March 2021; it's possible to argue that this drop back from about 3m may help, and he's edging down the weights, but others are more persuasive.

11/2

6th

4

3rd Feb 2024

Soft

2m 7f 98y

Class 1

15:10 Sandown

Gustavian

11st 3lb

J: Rex Dingle

T: Anthony Honeyball

Sole win from 13 chases came in a three-runner race last February; had wind surgery in July and his three runs since have not seen him in the top form he probably needs to win this, his first hurdle race since March 2021.

25/1

4th

7

13th Jan 2024

Good To Soft

3m 0f 0y

Class 2

13:30 Kempton

Gustavian

11st 2lb

J: Rex Dingle

T: Anthony Honeyball

Earned a silver medal at Aintree (2m4f) last month without proving a match for the winner; only 1-12 over fences but nicely weighted and this step back up in trip looks a plus, having gained the chase win over 3m.

6/1

Form: 11F-13 D BF

Last run: 28 days

W: 11st 6lb

7 yo Gelding

OR: 133

Form & Verdict

Progressive novice chaser last term, completing hat-trick at Newbury (2m4f, soft) in March; comfortably landed the odds over hurdles at Wetherby in November and went off favourite for handicap chase at Aintree (2m4f, heavy) last month only to tire in very testing conditions after looking a threat; may still have potential and looks the Skelton first string.

Place /
No / Draw
Date / Going /
Distance / Class
Time + Course Horse + Weight
Jockey / Trainer
Verdict Starting price

2nd

6

24th Feb 2024

Soft

2m 4f 110y

Class 2

16:10 Kempton

Heltenham

11st 4lb

J: Harry Skelton

T: Dan Skelton

Made no mistake when 4-6 in a novice hurdle on reappearance but he's since suffered heavy defeats at Aintree (a chase on heavy) and Lingfield (soft-ground hurdle race); won three handicap chases in a row at about 2m4f last season and the last of those wins reads well, but he needs to turn things around.

3/1

8th

1

21st Jan 2024

Good To Soft

2m 3f 110y

Class 3

16:10 Lingfield

Heltenham

12st 1lb

J: Harry Skelton

T: Dan Skelton

Rated higher over fences but he made no mistake in a novice hurdle on reappearance and heavy ground took its toll when a remote third on his return to chasing at Aintree; has a solid chance off this mark.

10/1

Form: 16-8P1 D

Last run: 25 days

W: 10st 11lb

7 yo Gelding

OR: 124

Form & Verdict

Didn't achieve much in his first two runs over fences (in Ireland) but he sprang a surprise at Ffos Las (2m3f, heavy) last month, pulling a long way clear with the runner-up; raised 3lb; lightly raced for Evan Williams and may have more in the tank.

Place /
No / Draw
Date / Going /
Distance / Class
Time + Course Horse + Weight
Jockey / Trainer
Verdict Starting price

9

11th Feb 2024

Heavy

2m 7f 25y

Class 2

15:35 Exeter

Carbon King

10st 6lb

J: Harry Cobden

T: Evan Williams

Three wins over hurdles in Ireland last season (up to 2m5f) and he shot back to form when taking a six-runner novice handicap chase at Ffos Las (2m3f, heavy) in December on third start for this stable; however, not proven over this sort of trip and pulled up when out of his depth trying 3m in a Grade 2 novice chase on latest outing; needs a career best.

16/1

0

3

13th Jan 2024

Soft

3m 0f 0y

Class 1

14:24 Warwick

Carbon King

11st 4lb

J: Conor Ring

T: Evan Williams

Three wins over hurdles in Ireland (2m/2m5f) last season and he shot back to form when taking a six-runner novice handicap chase at Ffos Las (2m3f, heavy) last month on third start for this stable; however, not proven over this sort of trip and above all looks well out of his depth at this level.

50/1

Form: 35-411 D

Last run: 18 days

W: 10st 10lb

8 yo Gelding

OR: 123

Form & Verdict

Belatedly off the mark in Britain at Ffos Las (2m3f, soft) in November and he followed up in good style at Fakenham (2m5f, heavy) four weeks later; on a roll and his stable won this race two years ago; has the 2.40 Wincanton as his first preference.

Place /
No / Draw
Date / Going /
Distance / Class
Time + Course Horse + Weight
Jockey / Trainer
Verdict Starting price

3rd

3

6th Jan 2024

Heavy

2m 4f 35y

Class 3

14:40 Wincanton

Georges Saint

11st 7lb

J: Ned Fox

T: Venetia Williams

jumped left throughout, led, pressed winner when headed 2 out, kept on run-in, lost second final stride

5/2

1st

3

19th Dec 2023

Good To Soft

2m 5f 44y

Class 3

14:40 Fakenham

Georges Saint

11st 5lb

J: Miss Lucy Turner

T: Venetia Williams

led narrowly, not fluent 3rd

4/1

Form: 731P-3 CD

Last run: 29 days

W: 10st 10lb

7 yo Gelding

OR: 123

Form & Verdict

Possibly needed the run when a never-dangerous 10l third of eight over 2m here on reappearance; this return to 2m4f should suit and he can compete off the same mark as when beating Quel Destin a neck over C&D (soft) last March; also won three times here over hurdles; looks the pick of Gary Moore's pair and is one to take very seriously indeed.

Place /
No / Draw
Date / Going /
Distance / Class
Time + Course Horse + Weight
Jockey / Trainer
Verdict Starting price

3

15th Feb 2024

Soft

3m 0f 37y

Class 3

16:15 Sandown

Hudson De Grugy

11st 7lb

J: Niall Houlihan

T: Gary Moore

Acts on heavy; not all plain sailing but he's 4-9 at Sandown and was a respectable third here (2m) ten weeks ago back from wind surgery; big question is stamina as he's only once been beyond about 2m4f and that last of three finishers last February (2m7f, good) was not conclusive proof.

5/1

3rd

3

8th Dec 2023

Soft

1m 7f 99y

Class 3

13:15 Sandown

Hudson De Grugy

11st 13lb

J: Harry Cobden

T: Gary Moore

held up in rear, niggled along briefly before 4th

13/2

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Verdict

The most appealing profile belongs to HUDSON DE GRUGY who goes well at Sandown and shaped with some encouragement over an inadequate 2m on his reappearance. The hat-trick-seeking Georges Saint would be a big danger if turning up but has a first-preference engagement at Wincanton. In his absence, Heltenham and the selection’s old rival Quel Destin would be feared most.[Richard O’Brien]