Sky Sports Racing presenter Alex Hammond has three on her side for the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown’s jumps season finale on Saturday.
Just when you thought you could fully focus on the flat season, we have the celebration of the end of the jump season at Sandown to look forward to this weekend; and a celebration it is sure to be after the end of last season passed by without any fans present.
The bet365 Gold Cup is the highlight and trainer Christian Williams is aiming his three staying stalwarts at the big prize once again.
Williams has taken to training this type of horse like a duck to water and has a 20 percent strike rate with horses that run over three miles three furlongs over further (including hurdles).
So, stayers are his forte and the trio of Win My Wings, Kitty’s Light spirit Cap Du Nord have been flying the Y Ddraig Goch for the stable in these types of races.
That success comes at a price, or a lack of one as it turns out, but that does not mean the winner reads elsewhere.
Kitty’s Light is 5/1 second favorite with Sky Bet to avenge last season’s unlucky defeat in this contest.
The Scottish National victory looked like a victory lap for Win My Wings, but can she overcome a 14lbs rise in the handicap to win at Sandown? She’s 5/1 to do so, and finally we have Cap Du Nord who at 14/1 is the least likely of the winners according to the bookies.
Of his three, Kitty’s Light deserves to get his head in front having finished second to the aforementioned stablemates on his last two outings.
Enrilo was the baddie 12 months ago when causing the interference that denied Kitty’s Light victory. It also cost his connections dear, with the Paul Nicholls-trained first past the post demoted to third place.
After three subsequent disappointing performances, he’s just 1lb higher than the rating that saw him “win” in 2021. He comes into calculations once again after a more encouraging run last time out and is Sky Bet’s 4/1 favorite. The price reflects his chance, but I do not expect that floats your boat in a race as competitive as this.
Dan Skelton may not have had a successful Cheltenham and just one handicap winner at Aintree but be under no illusion about the success of his season. His prize money tally for 2021/22 is up there with his previous best and there have been several highlights along the way.
Phlegmatic is 9/1 to lift this season-ending showpiece event on his first try beyond three miles. He has an extra five furlongs to tackle on Saturday, but his trainer has always had it in his mind that this horse will make up into an extreme stayer and Saturday could be his day.
He certainly seems to be getting the hang of things and is lightly raced and progressive. He has an attractive racing weight and is on my shortlist.
One of the stats I like is when a horse has a second run after a wind operation. The general consensus is that the first time after the op a horse gains confidence and the second time they have even more confidence to push on. As an asthmatic I can only dream of such an intervention!
Well, Potterman falls into that category. The difference being that Alan King’s nine-year-old won on his first start after the operation. He’s 2lbs higher in the handicap than when winning this race in 2021 (I tipped him that day so was thrilled he was awarded the contest, even if Kitty’s Light was the moral winner) and off that mark comes into calculations once again; he is 12/1 with Sky Bet.
If Musical Slave gets in the race, he’ll have a nice weight to carry. Can he back up his recent Haydock win with the cheekpieces on for the second time here? He’s 7lbs higher for that win last week.
At 20/1 Domaine De L’Isle maybe worth considering to fill one of the places. The booking of Brian Hughes catches the eye with the champion jockey the last rider to be successful on the horse back in April 2021.
Coach Sean Curran will not be wasting Hughes’ time, and to date the pair have teamed up for two winners from six rides at a £ 1 level stakes profit of £ 5.
The horse is now 4lbs below that last winning mark and whilst he has a bit to prove on recent form, he has his optimum conditions and the assistance of the man who has joined an elite group of jump jockeys to ride 200 winners in a season.
It’s a super race once again and one I look forward to trying to solve every year. In conclusion it’s impossible to overlook the runners representing Christian Williams, but at the likely prices I’m happy to have Phlegmatic, Potterman spirit Domaine De L’Isle on my side.
Congratulations to Brian Hughes for his incredible achievement this season in winning his championship back and I’m sure he’ll enjoy the Sandown celebrations win, lose or draw on Domain De L’Isle in the big one.