By News Team
Last Updated: 31st December 2020
The Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle takes centre stage on Saturday, while Sandown also hosts the ultra-popular Veterans’ Chase Final.
Nick Luck has been through the card at the Esher track and has also picked three horses for Ayr’s ITV races.
PADDY’S POEM has been off the track some time but is a sporting selection at 12/1 to take the TV opener (1:50) at Sandown. He was still an improving horse when we last saw him, rounding off with an excellent second here to a very well treated Johnbb, who is now capable off much higher marks. Paddy’s Poem can go very well fresh, the stable’s horses have generally performed creditably this season and often go well here.
DO YOUR JOB, for the consistently underrated Michael Scudamore stable, is narrowly favoured at 11/1 over promising 7/4-shot Metier in the Tolworth (2.25). A very smart winner at Ayr, where he thumped recent Kempton scorer Cadzand, he then looked all over the winner at Haydock before he got found out by the long run-in. That form in itself is just about the best on offer, and I fancy he’ll be a bigger price than he ought to be.
VALTOR has been fighting a losing battle with the handicapper ever since his British debut, but he’s now nicely treated for a valuable prize (3.00). He had to qualify for this race at Warwick, which was never going to be his track as he always edges out to his right. As a result, he’s come down another few pounds, and it’s less than a year since he ran two belters behind Ballyoptic and Yala Enki. He won’t mind bad ground and is a pretty attractive proposition here at 10/1.
MONSIEUR LECOQ is another horse that’s been marking time somewhat, but he’s only six and can bounce back at 11/2 in the finale (3.35). He was very highly tried (though not disgraced) at the back end of last season, while his two runs this time have been chasing (didn’t fire) and in France (ran ok). Back over this sort of trip over hurdles on early testing ground, he should be able to find the form that saw him finish second at Ascot this time last year – and he’s now 5lbs lower.
JONNIESOFA is a low-mileage 11yo and can continue to progress in the Handicap Chase at Ayr (2.05). He would have won by a great deal further at Carlisle but for idling on the run-in and was lucky to get away with a 3lb rise for that. Given that, and his proven form in really heavy ground, he just gets the nod at 3/1 over Evander, who is also declared at Sandown.
BETTERGETALONG is a riskier proposition at 11/1 but is looking nicely treated now (2.40) and is worth another try over 3m. He ripped a shoe off here first up this season, and probably needed the run at Haydock last time, but many of his best efforts have come here in deep ground and he’s lower in the weight than when running two belters here behind Portrush Ted and The Con Man last spring.
MANETTI is a far from confident choice in the final TV race at Ayr (3.15). He’s not got a convincing profile, but he’s very capable off this sort of mark and, in a race full of ifs and buts, his stepping up in trip and the addition of Brian Hughes combine to make him of some interest at 13/2 in receipt of masses of weight.