Friday, February 03, 2023

The 2023 Virgin Bet Heroes Handicap Hurdle at Sandown

The top drawer action over the weekend takes place at the Dublin Racing Festival. 

On this side of the Irish Sea racegoers pondering a trip to Sandown Park on Saturday will no longer need to study the course's sometimes troublesome sartorial standards after the Jockey Club announced yesterday it was dropping all dress code requirements with immediate effect at all of its 15 racecourses. 

With respect, allow me to suggest the time saved on such sartorial scrutiny might be better utilised searching for an each-way selection in the Pertemps qualifier, the Virgin Bet Heroes Handicap Hurdle (2.55), and to offer the following speculative suggestions.

Fifteen have been declared; the going on the hurdle course is described as good to soft, soft in places.

At the time of writing the Coral Gold Cup runner-up Remastered has been chalked up favourite. 

David Pipe's charge went on to win a three mile chase at Kempton the day after Boxing Day and as a result is now rated 152 over fences; his hurdle rating is just 142.

Over at Chepstow Flight Deck won the Coral Racing Club Handicap Hurdle the day after Boxing Day, beating Bells Of Peterboro four and a quarter lengths with Green Book sixth, over 40 lengths in arrears.

On revised terms the runner up looks entitled to finish considerably closer yet Flight Deck is priced up at 15/2 and Bells Of Peterboro 16/1 in a place.

Green Book, who won this last year off 130, has been well backed to repeat the feat off a mark four pounds higher and is now an 8/1 chance.

In a Pertemps qualifier over course and distance back in December Dolphin Square beat Call Me Lord a nose with Wilde About Oscar a short-head away in third. 

That result only tells half the tale as Call Me Lord's jockey Ben Bromley dropped his hands after passing the first Sandown winning post but, unfortunately, it was the second one that counted, allowing Mr David Maxwell to pinch the spoils.

Since then Dolphin Square and Call Me Lord finished fourth and fifth respectively behind Hector Javilex at Cheltenham on New Year's Day, with Wilde About Oscar stopping quickly at the business end of the race - he was pulled up before the last. 

Dan Skelton's charge has hinted at a return to form and connections fit a tongue-tie for the first time tomorrow; off a mark of 136 he looks a well-handicapped horse.

Jet Of Magic likes to race prominently and finished runner-up behind Hector Javilex at Cheltenham; the Nicholls inmate has gone up 13 pounds since moving to the yard in November.

Stellar Magic was sent off the 2/1 favourite at Lingfield on seasonal debut but was pulled up; his next run saw noteworthy improvement at Wincanton on Boxing Day, beaten threequarters of a length by Steal A March in another Pertemps qualifier. 

Philip Hobbs' charge was raised four pounds and has yet to win over this trip. 

Coquelicot has been in better form this term in mares' races but current stable form would be a concern while the last time we saw Party Business was at Haydock in May.

Storm Nelson may be ten years of age but he's never been better. Writing in this week's Weekender Sandy Thomson says:

"He is in very good order and off a career-high mark of 134 I expect him to be competitive in a valuable 3m handicap hurdle at Sandown on Saturday. He is a relentless galloper, and with plenty of give in the ground I would hope he has a serious chance."  

Schalke won last time out at Kelso and was raised 8 pounds for his trouble but Aaron Anderson can claim back five. 

It's not often you see Nico De Boinville on a 28/1 shot but Bothwell Bridge has failed to complete on his last four chase starts and Indefatigable hasn't hit form this term either - the yard last had a winner 351 days ago.

Some weeks, you know, it can be a bit of a struggle to identify one at a price but it's possible to make the case for a couple in this field.

Storm Nelson (14/1), Bells Of Peterboro (14/1) and Wilde About Oscar (20/1) are considered. 

On the second of three chase starts since the summer Bells Of Peterboro was beaten one and a quarter lengths by Tea For Free. 

On his first hurdle start this term Tim Vaughan's charge was the only one to get anywhere near Flight Deck at Chepstow and tomorrow he's four pounds better off for four and a quarter lengths.

Bells Of Peterboro is the speculative each-way suggestion, generally a 14/1 chance, with Sky Bet and William Hill paying five places.


TW said...

Virgin Bet Heroes Handicap Hurdle

The morning report from the Clerk of the Course gives the going at:-

Chase Course 80/20 Good to Soft/Good. Hurdle Course 60/40 Good to Soft/Soft. Generally 'dead' underfoot.

Indefatigable (IRE) is a non runner [Self Cert (Not Eaten Up)]

Minor error in the copy; Storm Business may be ten years…..

The system’s idea of the finishing order is


Remastered deserves to head the market but 5/1 is too short, the system pencilled him in as a 8/1 shot and I’d want double figure odds before getting involved. The 16/1 about Storm Nelson yesterday would have been tempting as he’s done nothing but improve under Sandy Thompson but he has shortened overnight.

Bells Of Peterboro should run his race, but the system feels a mark of 126 might be just above his ceiling for win purposes.

I’m sitting this race out, but I’ll be looking for value elsewhere with good races in abundance on a cracking weekend for racing.

Good luck!


P.S Surprised Wrexham did not get a mention in dispatches!

GeeDee said...

Thanks for your ratings - and for pointing out the copy error, TW.

Bit of a roller coaster ride with Wrexham last Sunday - the final Sheffield equaliser brought back painful memories of our play-off match against Grimsby where we displayed a marked vulnerability at the back post from corners / set pieces.

Certainly our best chance has gone now - and probably disappeared completely.

Replay scheduled to be shown live on ITV4 on Tuesday.

GeeDee said...

I always think it's a long way up the hill on the hurdle track at Sandown...

Having raced at the head of affairs for most of the trip selection Bells of Peterboro (11/1) lost his pitch between the final two flights and eventually weakened into seventh, beaten some eight and a half lengths.

Last year's winner Green Book (6/1) came home three lengths ahead of Call Me Lord (11/1) with 4/1 joint favourite Jet Of Magic third, Schalke (20/1) fourth and outsider Bothwell Bridge (40/1) fifth.

TW said...

My system output could not have got it any more wrong!

Best of luck on Tuesday.