The ITV cameras head to Sandown Park and Exeter on Friday for more top-quality National Hunt action.

Nick Luck has run through both cards and given us his best bets.


MISTER MURCHAN looks a big price at 12/1 in the handicap chase (1.50pm), the first ITV race at Sandown on Friday. He absolutely bolted up at Fontwell last time, jumping soundly and travelling like a horse who belonged in a better grade. This was not a complete aberration, however, as he had shaped similarly over staying trips over hurdles last season, when not quite getting home. This intermediate trip looks right, and I think the rider is value for his claim.

SENDING LOVE is the answer to the Grade 2 Ballymore Winter Novices’ Hurdle (2.25pm) at 2/1. Although he appeared to be achieving relatively little when cantering home at Ffos Las, the subsequent performances of the runner-up, fifth, sixth and seventh show it to have been a race of some depth. He did not come off the bridle, and clearly showed the benefit of a breathing operation. This test should suit well. Star Gate looks his most interesting rival in a tightly matched group, but his stable is struggling for winners.

ESPION is the suggestion in quite a decent little race for the Pertemps Qualifier (3.00pm). He has run two really sound races at this track, including last time when staying on nicely. That was over an inadequate trip and the stable were out of form at the time. Neither of those applies here, and he remains unexposed and interesting at 15/2.

EMMPRESSIVE LADY lived up to her name at Exeter last time and can justify her position near the head of the market here. Already on her fourth trainer, she is nonetheless lightly raced and appears to have improved significantly this season. She was ridden much more handily through her recent win and I am hoping Lucy Gardner will opt for similar tactics here at 4/1.


THE BIG BREAKAWAY looked a lovely horse last season, jumped boldly in the main on his chasing debut at Cheltenham, and should follow up in the novices’ chase at Exeter (2.05pm) with minimal fuss at 2/13.

Likely favourite SEVARANO has been nicely placed by Oliver Sherwood and can take the handicap that comes next (2.40pm) at 5/2. Although he carries top weight, he’ll be much more comfortable bossing inferiors. He has a decent cruising speed, but doesn’t really quicken, so should be well suited to this track, and should move forward from his comeback win for which the handicapper has done little damage.

DAWSON CITY is old, but he’s no back number and can go in again in the Close Brothers Handicap (3.15pm) at 13/2. He rallied gamely over three miles at Uttoxeter last time, leaving the impression that this test was now required, and he looked really good here when winning over this trip a couple of seasons ago.

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