LiveScore Racing Preview: Sandown, January 8, 2022
Saturday's big meeting comes at Sandown Park where they boast the Tolworth Novices' Hurdle as their feature race - the first Grade 1 on British soil for 2022.
The race is part of a strong Sandown card that runs from 12.05pm-3.35pm with ground conditions forecast as soft, good to soft in places on the chase course. While it is soft, heavy in places on the hurdles course.
We've picked out five to follow on the afternoon at the Esher venue.
12.05pm - Unibet Extra Place Races Every Day Juvenile Hurdle (2m)
Romeo's Bond and Malakahna have sound form claims in the Sandown opener. Ian Williams' filly was beaten around seven-lengths in a Listed Aintree contest last month, after a convincing winning start at Fakenham previously. She drops in class and is respected.
MOULINS CLERMONT, by contrast, was a disappointment at Fontwell (2m1½f, good) in November on first start for new handler Gary Moore. His one run in France last season had been promising and, given it came on heavy ground, it shouldn't be a major surprise if he leaves that initial effort well behind now.
LiveScore selection: Moulins Clermont
12.40pm - Unibet 3 Uniboosts A Day Mares' Hurdle (Listed, 2m4f)
Whitehotchillifili won this contest last year, but Harry Fry's charge hasn't replicated that form since and is facing a difficult challenge as such.
Irish raiders Skyace and Gauloise are interesting. The former came out best in a Fairyhouse Grade 1 novice at Easter when they clashed, but has struggled since. Her latest effort was in open Grade 1 company so she should at least find this less demanding.
Gauloise meanwhile was a winner in this grade at Punchestown on her final start as a novice and, being from Willie Mullins' string, there are no fears that she will not be ready following a layoff. All her wins have come at two-miles.
MARTELLO SKY continued her progress this season (2-3 so far) with a game, staying success in a Cheltenham Mares' handicap over a similar trip last month. Lucy Wadham's charge is by no means finished improving and could take another step up now.
LiveScore selection: Martello Sky
1.50pm - Unibet Horserace Betting Operator Of The Year Handicap Chase (1m7½f)
Gunsight Ridge was second behind subsequent Grade 2 Dipper winner L'homme Presse at Exeter last month and has claims on that evidence of gaining a first chasing success, but both Up The Straight and NUMITOR are solid rivals here.
The former takes a marked ease in class after contesting graded events at Cheltenham and Ascot recently and could go well, but front-running Numitor won at Wetherby over this trip in October. He is a fine jumper and should make a bold bid in front.
LiveScore selection: Numitor
2.25pm - Unibet Tolworth Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1, 2m)
The feature on the day and a second chance to see the hugely exciting CONSTITUTION HILL strut his stuff. He was well-fancied on debut five weeks ago and he took apart a solid field that included putting 14-lengths between himself and the useful Might I in second spot, while the remainder were strung out across the Surrey countryside behind them.
That was enough to propel Nicky Henderson's runner towards the front of the market for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. He could be very smart and, while the likes of Datsalrightgino, Mr Glass and Shallwehaveonemore are entitled to ask questions, it will be a shock if he tastes defeat despite the immediate rise into Grade 1 company.
LiveScore selection: Constitution Hill
3pm - Unibet Veterans' Handicap Chase (Final Of The 2021 Veterans Chase Series, 3m)
The finale of another excellent veterans' series and it has attracted a good field. Aso found only Blaklion too good at Haydock in December on first foray into this sphere and, with the winner hosing up back on Merseyside over Christmas, that form is clearly strong. Venetia Williams' charge may be the one to beat, despite top-weight.
Final Nudge won at Warwick in November, a race in which SIR IVAN was behind in fourth spot. Harry Fry's charge made a late mistake there that hurt his cause having made the running a bit keenly in front. He was beaten around six-lengths and, third in this race last year, should go close back here armed with a 6lb pull on his Warwick conqueror when factoring in Lorcan Murtagh's claim today.
LiveScore selection: Sir Ivan