Sandown preview: Vinndication heads classy Scilly Isles fieldPublished on: February 1, 2019Author: Jamie Clark
Wintry weather threatens the Saturday card at Sandown, but the sight of some top novice chasers and the Champion Hurdle favourite Buveur D’Air in action if the meeting does go ahead can warm punters. The main event is the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase over 2m 4f (14:25), and the unbeaten Vinndication heads the betting.
Trainer Kim Bailey and connections have been targeting this race since the six-year-old won the Noel Novices’ Chase at Ascot just before Christmas. The form of Vinndication’s novice hurdles wins from last season are very strong, as two horses he beat – Coolanly and Champ – have won Grade 2 and Grade 1 events over the smaller obstacles since.
He is also two from two over fences, but unlikely to take up an alternative engagement in the 3m Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby. That meeting is even more threatened with being called off than this one, so it’s possible a number of others that are double entered may only have Sandown as an option.
Despite that, Vinndication thus has leading claims of going in again and maintaining his undefeated streak. There are two or three serious dangers and respected rivals, however, and at a best-price 15/8 with 888Sport he looks plenty short enough in the betting.
Defi Du Seuil better off with Lostintranslation
Adjusted ratings put Warren Greatrex trained mare La Bague Au Roi well on top as she claims a 7lb sex allowance, but is not an intended runner. The plan made by connections is for the unbeaten chaser and Kauto Star heroine to go for the Flogas at the Dublin Racing Festival.
However, the wintry conditions may mean ferries to Ireland are suspended and so La Bague Au Roi cannot be categorically ruled out of this. The Scilly Isles is a similar trip to the Grade 2 John Francome that she won at Newbury en route to Kempton and, if she were to line-up in this, an 8/1 price with Paddy Power is very attractive.
A rematch between the Dipper Novices’ Chase one-two Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation looks more likely. The latter prevailed by 1 1/4 lengths for Colin Tizzard at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, but now meets the Philip Hobbs trained runner-up on 3lb worse terms.
That suggests Defi Du Seuil, who was one of two entries for leading owner JP McManus at the five-day stage, has every chance of reversing the form. Bookmakers are just siding with Lostintranslation, however, at 9/4 with the 2017 Juvenile Hurdle winner a general 5/2.
Defi Du Seuil arguably brings stronger form into this and when you consider the revised terms from Cheltenham. The runner-up in his Exeter win has since come out and chased home La Bague Au Roi relegating RSA Chase favourite Santini to third in the Kauto Star.
Remainder at double figure prices
McManus also had Ok Corral entered, but the Nicky Henderson trained nine-year-old had a tough Listed race over 3m when winning at Warwick last month and looks an intended runner for the 4m National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. As a result, he may swerve this and that’s reflected in him being 10/1 in places.
If La Bague Au Roi does make it to Leopardstown, then Greatrex may still be represented by Mulcahys Hill, who has had a wind op. He also holds an entry in the Towton, however, and is an Irish point winner, so this trip may be too sharp for him.
Dell Oro from Gary Moore’s yard is well held by Vinndication on hurdles form, but was a fine eight-length fourth to Glen Forsa at Kempton in a handicap over fences on Boxing Day. He was giving plenty of weight away to the first three home and, like the runner-up Glen Rocco and fifth horse Lough Derg Spirit, has come out and won since.
That means the form has worked out well; so, if one or two of the ante post market principals do miss out or take up other engagements, Dell Oro may have a better chance than his 20/1 odds with Ladbrokes suggest. He could be one to consider each-way, as a mark of 139 may underestimate him.
Olly Murphy has Rio Quinto in both this and the Towton for Diana Whateley and, as his chase win was over further, Wetherby looks the plan. Cruical Role burst blood vessels when a below par third in the Altcar at Haydock and this demands more, so isn’t fancied for Team Skelton and the two Irish raiders seem unlikely to come over with Leopardstown on.
Buveur D’Air can’t be opposed in Contenders Hurdle
As he’s won his prep run en route to Champion Hurdle glory in each of the last two years, Buveur D’Air is long odds-on to resume winning ways in the Listed 2m Contenders Hurdle earlier on the card (13:50) for McManus and Henderson.
The eight-year-old was far from disgraced when collared in the shadows of the post by stable companion Verdana Blue in the Christmas Hurdle last time out as he was giving a 7lb sex allowance to the winner.
This is a significant drop in grade for Buveur D’Air, but connections like to race him at Sandown in this and he’s conceded penalties comfortably in the last two renewals.
He’s won with plenty in hand each time, but that means prohibitive odds of 1/5 with William Hill that may only shorten if the five-day entries don’t all stand in final declarations.
On official figures, Buveur D’Air is 22lb and upwards clear of the field. The Fighting Fifth Hurdle form with Vision Des Flos looks rock solid, and Tizzard’s charge who holds a Betfair Hurdle entry at Newbury next week has a mountain to climb.
It’s doubtful the five-day field of seven will all declare, as Buveur D’Air has faced three and two rivals in this race in the last couple of years. While there’s no looking past him to win, this has the makings of a lively betting heat for forecasts, each-way or place punts.
Unbeaten juvenile Torpillo best off at weights
Four-year-olds get plenty of weight from their elders on these terms, so the unbeaten Torpillo has plenty in his favour if lining up. Trained by Nigel Twiston Davies and owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, this juvenile has run out a wide-margin winner of two minor races for connections.
What Torpillo beat is certainly questionable, but both displays were visually very taking and he’s the only other course and distance winner entered in this.
It’s a massive step up in class and quality of opposition, but he could have run in the Grade 2 Finesse against fellow juveniles on Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham last Saturday and didn’t.
As Torpillo gets 16lb from Buveur D’Air, that makes significant inroads into their ratings difference of 27. It is unlikely to be enough to give the favourite worry, but he’s the solid each-way or forecast flutter.
Dan Skelton mare Roksana could make her reappearance here after winning a Grade 2 against her own sex in novice company last season and then chasing home Black Op in a Grade 1 at Aintree.
It’s a long layoff for the seven-year-old, yet she has progressive form albeit over further and gets weight from everyone but Torpillo, so may outrun ante post odds of 16/1.
Rayvin Black has finished runner-up in this race twice before for Oliver Sherwood, but aged 10 isn’t open to further improvement. He still has ability as demonstrated when beaten only five lengths by If The Cap Fits in the Grade 2 Ascot Hurdle, but others have the speed to collar this front-running sort.
That leaves De Dollar Man, who is readily disregarded with tons to find, and Murphy’s I K Brunel, who takes a big step up in class.