Sandown preview: Call Me Lord impossible to oppose in Contenders Hurdle

14th September 2021

2020 Contenders Hurdle preview from Sandown includes Cal Me Lord

Trainer Nicky Henderson has a superb record in the Contenders Hurdle and Call Me Lord looks a worthy odds-on favourite to further enhance it with victory in the Listed 2m contest at Sandown on Saturday (13:50).

The Seven Barrows handler has won six of the last nine renewals – including three runnings with dual Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’air.

In Call Me Lord, he has a seven-year-old who boasts a terrific 46 per cent strike rate over the obstacles and a fine record at the Esher venue – having won three times and been placed twice in five starts.

The last of those successes came in the Grade 2 Select Hurdle over 2m 5f where the Simon Munir and Isaac Souede owned son of Slickly took up the running two from home and powered clear to slam Lil Rockerfeller by 16 lengths.

Call Me Lord also ran well over course and distance in last year’s Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle when third to Malaya under top weight of 11st 12lb. He has looked as good as ever in two outings this season.

After looking the likely winner when getting worn down close home and beaten half-a-length by If The Cap Fits in the Grade 2 Coral Hurdle at Ascot, Call Me Lord went one better last time out.

He showed a really willing attitude to dig deep and beat Ballyandy by a neck in the Grade 2 International Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The form of those races sets a clear standard in this much lower grade affair.

It will be disappointing if Call Me Lord is unable to give 6lb to Eldorado Allen, who is rated 8lb inferior.

He thus looks impossible to oppose, and cramped odds of 8/11 with Coral about him look fully justified in the Contenders Hurdle.

Palladium the punt in Contenders Hurdle day opener

Henderson also saddles another hotpot in the 2m novices’ hurdle that gets proceedings underway on a cracking seven-race card in the shape of Palladium (12:50).

This four-year-old was a fair sort on the level when trained by Martyn Meade and shaped with bags of promise on hurdling debut when second of 12 to Maskada in a 12-runner maiden contest at Warwick.

Palladium raced prominently throughout, before throwing down a strong challenge after the last and failing by just a short-head to get up.

The son of Champs Elysees showed distinct signs of inexperience. He duly came on for that spin when opening his account in impressive style over course and distance at the beginning of last month.

Palladium looked far more streetwise and, despite racing keenly in the early stages, stretched clear from the second last to easily Brambledon by 11 lengths.

The pair pulled 15 lengths of the third home and 122-rated Hereia, so that gives the form a solid enough look.

Palladium got quotes from bookmakers for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival after that taking success.

However, he wasn’t among entries for that Grade 1 juvenile contest which were revealed earlier in the week.

His Cheltenham target, therefore, is likely to be the Fred Winter. Palladium needs to be winning this to confirm himself as a leading contender for the juvenile handicap contest.

As he receives a handy 4lb weight-for-age allowance from his main market rivals in this, it will be disappointing if he doesn’t follow-up.

Palladium can be backed at 15/8 with BetVictor to do just that in the hands of Nico De Boinville.

First Flow fancied in handicap chase

First Flow looks on a handy mark and decent value at 7/4 with Betway to land the spoils in the 2m handicap chase (13:15).

Trained by Kim Bailey, this seven-year-old developed into a smart hurdler last season when winning three of his five starts.

In the last of those at Haydock, he only had to be ridden clear to easily beat Midnight Shadow by 10 lengths in a Grade 2.

First Flow then had his attention switched to chasing at the start of this season.

He ran very well on debut over the larger obstacles when a four-length runner-up to Summerville Boy at Uttoxeter.

The winner has since landed a Grade 2 over hurdles and also ran very well last time out when chasing home champion stayer Paisley Park in the Cleeve at Cheltenham off an official rating of 156.

First Flow was then a gallant runner-up to Angels Breath at Ascot when beaten eight lengths. That one is an exciting prospect who has won since to be rated 153.

The son of Primary then gained a deserved success at Hereford when making all to score by 20 lengths, before running very well on handicap chase debut in a hot class 2 contest at Ascot over 2m 1f.

First Flow finished a 12 lengths third to Espoir De Guye off a mark of 140, where he raced at the head of affairs before getting headed two out and weakening approaching the last.

He is able to race off an unchanged mark on Contenders Hurdle day, so that gives him a big shout at the weights on the pick of his form.

The drop back to 2m, over which he has a strike rate of 50 per cent, is an obvious plus and First Flow also relishes testing ground.

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