Saturday Sandown Betting Tips
National Hunt’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final (Premier Handicap) – 2m4f
Henri The Second 1pt EW (5 Places) @ 8/1
Twinjets 0.5pts EW (5 Places) @ 10/1
All week I’ve been keen on Henri The Second here, and having had a deeper study through the form of the race, he looks a very good bet here despite having to carry top weight.
Although only second on Hurdles debut at Chepstow over 2m3½f, it was a very good opening effort from this Listed Bumper winner to only be beaten 1.25 lengths by Chianti Classico (133) – where he was notably outpaced on the quicker ground before staying on strongly at the finish. Despite being beaten however, Paul Nicholls retained enough faith to chuck him into the Grade 2 Winter Novices’ Hurdle over this course and distance in December – and on the Soft ground Henri The Second ate up the ground to win by a very convincing 4.5 lengths. That form isn’t working out too badly either, as the 3rd place Maximilian (137) landed the Grade 2 River Don on his next start.
Henri The Second went to Cheltenham on Trials Day for the Grade 2 Classic Novices’ Hurdle, but connections has feared beforehand that the Prestbury track might not be one that suits him. Despite having to give away a 5lbs penalty to the field however, he again ran a decent race for 4th – travelling up into it nicely before fading behind 3 nice types in Rock My Way (138), Pembroke (136) and Mofasa (134).
I’d imagine soon after Henri crossed the line in that Cheltenham race that Paul Nicholls started plotting a route to this Novice Handicap Hurdle Final, but in order to run in the race he had to get this 6yo qualified. In order to do that then, Henri The Second ran at Warwick 15 days ago over 2m3f – where he was trying to give 4lbs away to Pikar (133). Having travelled like the best Horse, Henri The Second was certainly given a sympathetic ride by Harry Cobden, and in finishing 2nd it was ‘job done’ in terms of qualifying for this Final.
Dropped 1lb for that run to a mark of 132 is particularly useful, and although Henri The Second will still have to shoulder top weight here, I think his form is just a class above the rest of these. It wouldn’t be the first time Paul Nicholls has won this race with a Horse high in the weights either, as McFabulous won this race off 132 in 2020, and the Champion Trainer extended his record to 2 wins in 3 years when scoring with Complete Unknown 12 months ago. As this race has surely been the plan for Henri The Second, and Harry Cobden has chosen to ride, he looks a massive player back at a course and distance he’s already won a Grade 2 contest at on similar ground.
The only other Horse who I think is capable of running to a figure which is required to win this contest is Twinjets (125), and having also ran well at Sandown on his latest start I will have a small saver on him. This 6yo was bidding to give away 14lbs to Twin Power in a Novice Handicap over this course and distance 35 days ago, and he went fairly close to doing so when only beaten 1.25 lengths despite some less than fluent jumping.
Previously he had looked much more fluent on softer ground in two victories at Leicester and Plumpton however, where on that latter effort he beat Twin Power by 9 lengths only having to give him 6lbs at the weights – and at Leicester he even beat Cuthbert Dibble off levels. Back on favourable softer ground he will be 7lbs better off with Twin Power, and on the same terms with the favourite here – which should see him very much in contention should Henri feel the effects of a short turnaround.
Handicap Chase (Class 3)
Golden Whisky 1pt Win @ 5/1
If running to the same form as when a 5 length second to Fugitif (149) at Chepstow over Christmas when sporting first time cheek-pieces, then Golden Whiskey should have a great chance here. Another Horse who’s been waiting since Christmas for Soft ground, this 10yo ran well the last day, and his unchanged rating of 128 is 2lbs lower than his last win.
With those cheek-pieces retained, this Evan Williams charge should be able to go 1 better than when 2nd in this race 2 years ago – where he faced the impossible task of trying to give Five Star Getaway (126) 25lbs at the weights.