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Five key runners to note at Sandown and Aintree on Saturday

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Fri 2 Dec 2022

A week on from Constitution Hill’s dazzling display in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, it is the chasers who are booked for top billing in Britain on Saturday. Here are five who could light up what promises to be a compelling afternoon, live on Racing TV.



This column was first published on Tuesday

AHOY SENOR

1.30 Aintree: Boylesports Many Clouds Chase. Odds: a general 5-2

One of last season’s top staying novice chasers, he was a big disappointment on his return in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby last month when paying the price for racing keenly and making errors on his first start for seven months. He was shunted out to 25-1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup on the back of that lacklustre effort but we know he’s better than that and this £80,000 prize offers him a good opportunity to get back on track. He should be sharper/less gassy here and is unbeaten in two starts at Aintree, landing Grade One contests on each occasion. Conflated boasts the best overall form but he would have a 6lb penalty to shoulder for his surprise win in the Irish Gold Cup and he is not a confirmed runner. His connections also having the option of running Fury Road, who won on his return and is a chunky 14-1. However, he was no match for Ahoy Senor in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree in April.


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JONBON

1.45 Sandown: Close Brothers Henry VIII Novices' Chase. Odds: a general 1-3

 Jonbon after winning at Aintree in April (Focusonracing)
Jonbon after winning at Aintree in April (Focusonracing)

A decade on from Nicky Hendrson landing the Henry VIII/Tingle Creek double with Captain Conan and Sprinter Sacre, he has prospects of landing the double again with Jonbon and Shishkin. As a brother to the brilliant Douvan who changed hands for a whopping £570,000 after his point win, Jonbon began his career under a welter of expectation but, up to now, has done his best to carry the load with distinction. General odds of 2-1 for the Arkle look miserly this far in advance but what price would you be willing to lay? His only defeat in five starts over hurdles last season came at the hands of Constitution Hill in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and he was impressive when brushing aside Monmiral on his chasing debut at Warwick this month. Altior (2016) and Edwardstone (2021) have completed the Henry VIII/Arkle double in recent years.


Essential viewing! Willie Mullins provides the inside track on his weekend runners, which include Facile Vega and Gentleman De Mee


ASHTOWN LAD

2.05 Aintree: Boylesports Becher Handicap Chase. Odds: 6-1 with William Hill.

A week after landing one of the biggest staying handicap chases of the season, the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury with Le Milos, the Skelton brothers will have prospects of plundering another of the season’s prestigious handicap prizes. Neither have previously enjoyed a victory over the Grand National fences but in Ashtown Lad they look to have the ideal candidate. The eight-year-old is low mileage, having had only 13 starts, and hinted he had a good staying handicap chase in him when fifth in last season’s Scottish Grand National, looking a big threat to all four from home only for a lack of stamina to betray him. Before that, he’d also been a good third behind Ahoy Senor and Noble Yeats in the Towton at Wetherby. His jumping has been polished and a mark of 138 almost certainly underestimates him. He should be spot on for this assignment, too, after finishing a close third to the leniently handicapped Remastered over hurdles here a month ago. The winner went on to be beaten half a length in the Coral Gold Cup.


Betfair Tingle Creek Chase runner-by-runner guide


GREANETEEN

2.55 Sandown: Betfair Tingle Creek Chase. Odds: 7-4 with Coral and Ladbrokes

Paul Nicholls told Stewart Machin more about Greaneteen after his comeback win at Exeter

There’s been plenty of talk about the ground at Britain’s jump courses in recent weeks and it will again be a hot topic over the days ahead. No rain is forecast at Sandown between now and Saturday, with the going, currently good, good to soft in places. Nicky Henderson, the trainer of Shishkin, will be hoping Andrew Cooper, the clerk of the course, is generous with his watering because his returning star is a strong stayer who, according to Timeform, has never run on ground quicker than good to soft. Likewise, Alan King would like underfoot conditions on the soft side for Arkle winner Edwardstone. By contrast, it will be a case of the quicker the better for course specialist Greaneteen, last year’s winner, who looked better than ever when bossing his rivals in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter last month and is officially rated only 5lb inferior to the hot favourite. Match fit and with conditions in his favour for what represents a “home game” against rivals who may not turn up, Greaneteen has plenty going for him.


DEISE ABA

3.30 Sandown: Winners Wear Cavani Menswear London National Handicap Chase. Odds: 5-1 with Unibet

A few inches here and there, and Deise Aba would be unbeaten in four starts in staying handicap chases at Sandown in the past two years. He won on his first two visits to the track before being beaten a nose by Highland Hunter in this contest last year (watch above). And on his latest visit, in February, he again gave his all, narrowly failing to peg back Le Milos, who last week landed the Coral Gold Trophy at Newbury off a 7lb higher mark. Deise Aba is only 2lb higher, having since been pulled up in the Grand National – something he’s done in five of his past six races away from his beloved Sandown. A spin over hurdles at Aintree last month should have teed him up nicely.

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