OUR racing man Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) looks ahead to a decent day at Sandown and Musselburgh.
Musselburgh hosts it's trial weekend and though it's not renowned for producing multiple festival winners it's a very good meeting for the track. The Triumph Hurdle trail looks a good renewal and though it may not produce the winner of the big race itself this should throw up plenty of future winners.
Soldier in Action makes his hurdling debut here for the red hot Nicky Henderson yard who have a great record at this track. A talented front running stayer on the flat he could be hard to peg back on ground he will enjoy. However he will need to be really smart to make a winning debut today.
Fidux is 2 from 2 over hurdles for Alan King and there are few better trainers of juvenile hurdlers than him. A French import, he has shown good battling qualities on his two starts so far however I feel he will meet rivals who have a little too much pace here and this track is unlikely to play to his strengths.
Project Bluebook was a decent flat performer for John Quinn and this JP McManus owned gelding looks improved for his switch to hurdles. After a defeat on debut to Nietzsche he has won both starts over course and distance, last time out winning a handicap in great style. He jumped well and will love conditions and I expect him to complete the hatrick here.
14:25 Sandown | ITV4
The Scilly Isle novice chase is the only Grade 1 action of the weekend and this 2 and a half mile novice chase is the highlight of a good Sandown card. With only five runners it's possible tactics will be crucial and I think one looks a great bet at the prices.
Clan Des Obeaux has had three starts over fences and despite only winning once he is highly regarded. After an uninspiring debut over fences at Chepstow he destroyed a good field at Newbury before chasing home Whisper last time out. He's only five and full of promise but he's not one for maximum faith yet.
Top Notch was the best of these over hurdles and was second in the Triumph Hurdle before falling just short in the Champion Hurdle when fifth. He is a very good horse, perhaps underrated and comes in here looking to complete a four-timer. The stable is flying and is likely to be hard to beat here but I'm chancing one at a bigger price.
Gary Moore is a master when it comes to transforming hurdlers when sent chasing and Baron Alco looks like continuing that fine record. A solid handicap hurdler he has two wins at local track Plumpton to his name and his defeat to Whisper last time when conceding weight reads really well in this race. He has nothing to fear on form in this race and at the prices looks a great bet.
14:45 Wetherby | ITV4
A Grade 2 novice chase over 3 miles and on this ground its likely to be a real test. Six inexperienced chasers line up and this will separate the men from the boys in what looks a potential war of attrition.
Nigel Twiston-Davies sends French recruit Calett Mad here and he's won two of his three chases starts so far. Last time out he was an impressive winner of a Taunton handicap however I'm not sure how strong that form is. He must be respected in this however in a field full of potential improvers I'm looking elsewhere.
Missed Approach has some smart form to his name and seems to handle soft ground. A winner of half his starts he has potential to be high class however he has a tendency to throw in a below par effort. In a race that will push the runners to their limits I'm not sure if I trust him enough to back.
Delusionofgrandeur won on his third start over fences and looks like he's gradually getting the hang of fencing. Last time out he ran his rivals into the ground at Catterick (a course he likes) and he shapes like a real stayer. This test should be right up his street and I think he will attempt to gallop his rivals in to submission here.
13:30 Musselburgh – Project Bluebook to win (15/8 888Sport)
14:25 Sandown – Baron Alco to win (13/2 Ladbrokes)
14:45 Wetherby – Delusionofgrandeur to win (8/1 Betway)