We’ve got a magnificent seven Saturday selections from Sandown and Ayr for armchair punters to consider in our first ITV racing tips of 2021.
The Grade One Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle is the feature event, while some interesting handicaps make up the supporting card, and here are our expert picks from Keith Hamer.
1.50 Sandown – BORN SURVIVOR
Dan Skelton continued to fire out the winners over the festive period and this nine-year-old is one to keep an eye on now back down to the same mark as his last success in April 2019.
2.05 Ayr – CLAN LEGEND
Can follow up his win at Aintree last time when Nick Alexander’s veteran enjoyed a cosy verdict over Dashing Perk on his second outing since being absent from the track for 238 days.
2.25 Sandown – METIER (nap)
Fancied to confirm the big impression he has made in just two starts over jumps by taking the Grade One spoils in the Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle.
The son of Mastercraftsman must have been giving the right signals at Harry Fry’s stable because he was sent off the 9/4 favourite for his debut over the smaller obstacles in late October.
He sailed through the heavy ground to win by 10 lengths – with 34 lengths back to the third. That form on its own may not have amounted to much but he could not have done it any better.
Metier then faced a tougher test at Ascot and passed that with flying colours by making all the running to score unchallenged by five and a half lengths from Tile Tapper.
Again, there was plenty of cut in the ground and conditions are certain to be testing once more here. This is another step up in class but he looks an exciting prospect.
2.40 Ayr – ILLEGAL MODEL
Has shaped well in two starts since returning from a nine-month break and can now make it third time lucky, according to our ITV racing tips.
Charlie Longsdon’s gelding had just one previous race over hurdles, which he won at Lingfield in January, before being pitched into decent handicap company.
The form of his latest effort when fifth to Portrush Ted at Sandown has been boosted by the fourth home Flemcara, who was successful at Doncaster on Tuesday.
3.00 Sandown – CROSSPARK
Deserves a change of luck in the final of the Veterans’ Handicap Chase Series and testing conditions will not inconvenience the 2019 Eider Chase winner.
Caroline Bailey’s stayer (pictured above) has finished runner-up in all his three races this season, beaten less than a length each time.
The last two have come on this course when he went down fighting behind Step Back and then Doing Fine.
3.15 Ayr – TAKINGRISKS
Can boast a 2019 Scottish Grand National triumph among three course victories and caught the eye keeping on well when fourth at Newcastle towards the end of November, so his turn could be near again.
3.35 Sandown – GEMIRANDE
Venetia Williams’ ex-French gelding hinted he should be well capable of reaching a higher rating than his current mark of 122 when eventually getting well on top in a Bangor novice at the end of November.
He benefited from the departure of long odds-on Soaring Glory there but would have been a decent second to Jonjo O’Neill’s very useful dual bumper winner – who began the current campaign with a victory over subsequent Grade One scorer Bravemansgame.
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