The big race at Sandown, on Saturday, is the G1 Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle. Which horses are already dominating our ante-post betting market?
Paul Nicholls’ Montmartre-sired 5-year-old took a keen hold in Listed company at Haydock and paid the price, at the business-end of the contest, finishing a couple of lengths behind Tahira. Nicholls then sent him to Ascot, for the G2 Kennel Gate. Once again, Capitaine was a little enthusiastic but he won readily – despite finding few friends in the market. Looks very progressive and should take a lot of beating if doesn’t overdo it in the early stages.
This 5-year-old has only had one outing, so far, but a 7-length defeat of hot-favourite Acting Lass immediately brought him to the attention of pundits and punters. Acting Lass was an 11-length winner on debut, at the same racecourse (Hereford), beating the likes of Bradford Bridge, Farm The Rock and Rabunda with ease. Colin Tizzard has decided to throw Finian’s Oscar into a G1 encounter at only the second time of asking and that says a great deal, but he’s perhaps best just monitored at this stage.
The Kayf Tara mare steadily improved through the course of the 5 NH flat races she competed in, winning the last 2 of 5. The 7-year-old made her hurdling debut last month, winning a Class 4 contest at Bangor. She went off as a 2/7 favourite in that race though and a 2.5 length victory was just about the minimum expected of her. Nicky Henderson clearly rates her highly and she’s attracting plenty of bets. We’ll find out just how good she is, on Saturday.
Others in contention include Mohaayed, Charlemar, Chalonnial and Gaitway. Each-way backers will be running the rule over Ballyhill, Celestial Path, Global Stage and Man From Mars.
A Brief History Of Sandown Racecourse
Sandown Park is within the M25 and one of the most likely ports of call for Londoners who fancy an afternoon at the races. Sometimes there will be racing on in the evenings, as well. The course’s proximity to London means that it is used for all sorts of events. There aren’t many grounds as big as this for hire, so close to the Capital. It is rare to find day when the course isn’t being used for something, be it a pop concert, a motor show, a trade exhibition, a wedding, a business conference or just another glorious day of horse racing!
London is the financial centre of Great Britain, so it should not come as too much of a surprise that it was Sandown which became the first British racecourse to charge all spectators! Half a crown (not an insignificant sum) was the admittance fee, when the course first opened it’s gates back in the year 1875. A three-day meeting was launched and one of the races was called the Grand National Hunt Chase. This race is now held at the Cheltenham Festival.
Another event was named the Grand International Steeplechase. Worth over two-thousand pounds, this was a Saturday event and (at the time) the richest steeplechase race in the country.
Major Sandown Races
Sandown still holds several important flat races, including, the Atalanta Stakes, the Brigadier Gerard Stakes, the Eclipse Stakes, the Gordon Richards Stakes, the Henry II Stakes, the Heron Stakes, the Sandown Classic Trial, the Sandown Mile, the Solario Stakes and the Sprint Stakes.
Other notable jumps races include the Celebration Chase the Contenders Hurdle, the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase, the Heroes Handicap Hurdle, the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase and the Tingle Creek Chase.
Sandown is a purpose-built facility, unlike many old British courses which basically grew organically over hundreds of years. It very nearly wasn’t built at all. There were groups lobbying for the land to be used to build a small new town, as well as one that was hoping to create a lunatic asylum there!
Fortunately for us, those in favour of constructing a new racecourse won the day. It soon became regarded as a suitable place for gentlemen to take their lady-friends, without fear of hearing foul language or witnessing loutish behaviour!
By Royal Appointment
The Queen Mother was a regular visitor to Sandown. Despite there being some better-known courses in the South-East of England, Sandown was her favourite. Some hugely-famous racehorses have appeared at Sandown, including Arkle, Mill Reef and Desert Orchid.