Happy New Year everyone, things return to normal as television focuses on two meetings this weekend after all the excitement of the festive season and it’s great to see a course like Wincanton taking centre stage. The West Country course certainly deserves its place in the sun and I am really looking forward to it. The other TV meeting is at Sandown with the Tolworth Hurdle being the feature race, a Grade 1 one contest. This is backed up by the Veterans Chase final and all these favourite old-timers became a year older on January 1st so now there is none under the age of eleven! Starting with the 2.40 at Wincanton and Phillip Hobbs has a strong hand here with two horses at the head of the betting, Earth Moor and Horse Force One, but both of these are taking a major step up in class. Emma Lavelle’s Misty Bloom looks good to me here after winning twice already this season including a Class 2 race here at Wincanton. The mare can add to her account.
The 3.15 is a two and a half mile chase and Colin Tizzard can take this on his home course with Pingshou. Alan King’s Valdez is favourite here but the veteran is now thirteen and has lumps of weight. Pingshou was a Class 1 winner back in 2017 and won at Ffos Las in May. Since then he has been runner up twice and fell when tired at Ascot in November but Tizzard will have him spot on for this on a course he loves to win at. Moving east to Sandown at 3.00 it’s the Veterans Chase Final, Jepeck is highly fancied after his victory at Chepstow at the beginning of December, he has run consistently well all season. But I think the answer could lie with a Warwick veterans race in November that was won by top weight King’s Odyssey. He did just enough that day and won a shade cleverly, he also had several of these opponents behind him that day and can rubber-stamp that result.
At 3.35 Nicky Henderson has Gunnery in the lineup and he has a great chance off bottom weight but he is moving up in class and has a 6lb penalty for his latest win at Doncaster. A northern raider is Donald McCain’s Chti Balko, who after winning at Bangor in November went to Haydock and was just beaten into second when a well fancied favourite, he can make amends here.
SATURDAY LUCKY 15 PICKS
2.40 Wincanton. Misty Bloom
3.15 Wincanton. Pingshou
3.00 Sandown. King’s Odyssey
3.35 Sandown. Chti Balko
Find all previous Seymour Biz racing previews in his weekly column: Saturday Horse Racing Tips