Talking Horses: Nelson can whip up a storm for Thomson at Sandown
The Grade One Scilly Isles Novice Chase is the feature event at Sandown on Saturday afternoon but the richest contest on the card is the three-mile handicap hurdle at 2.55pm and it is a fascinating puzzle for punters to unravel.
The versatile Remastered, who landed a valuable handicap chase at Kempton over Christmas, can race off his lower hurdles mark on Saturday and is vying for favouritism with Flight Deck, who was a cosy winner at Chepstow the same afternoon.
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Call Me Lor is reunited with 7lb claimer Ben Bromley, who was afflicted by the curse of Sandown’s two winning posts aboard the same horse in December, while last year’s winner, Green Book, is another with an obvious chance on his best form.
The standout at the early prices, though, is Sandy Thomson’s Storm Nelson (2.55) at around 16-1. The 10-year-old has had a stop-start career and still has just 13 runs over timber in the book, including five wins from seven since joining his current yard two seasons ago. He beat Flight Deck, who is around half his odds on Saturday, at Carlisle in November and is just 1lb worse off for their rematch.
Thomson’s string, meanwhile, is in excellent form overall, with a 23% strike rate and a big level-stakes profit this season, and Storm Nelson will be only his fourth runner at Sandown, which suggest he is not making the long trip from Berwickshire for the sake of his health.
Sandown 1.10 There were next-time winners in second and third behind Twinjets at Leicester in December and his opening mark looks generous.
Musselburgh 1.28 Drumbear posted a strong time on his successful chase debut in December and Ben Harvey’s 5lb claim tips the balance.
Sandown 1.45 This looks tailor-made for track-and-trip specialist Dolos, who already has three wins and two seconds in this contest to his name.
Musselburgh 2.03 The step up to marathon trips has been the making of Slipway, who can defy a 7lb rise in the weights and extend his win streak to three.
Sandown 2.20 Gerri Colombe remains unbeaten after six starts under Rules and should follow up his Grade One win at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting.
Wetherby 2.40 He was an excellent staying novice over hurdles last season but Ballygrifincottage already looks better over fences and this Grade Two is at his mercy.
Leopardstown 3.05 A fifth Grade One success should confirm Galopin Des Champs’ status as clear favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Musselburgh 3.16 Socialist Agenda was a ready winner of this race off a 2lb lower mark last season and 10-1 will look big if he is anywhere close to that form.
Sandown 3.30 A tightly knit handicap, with Laskalin’s win at Ludlow in November possibly the best form on offer.