Sandown Race Preview, 07/12/19

Sandown,
Saturday December 7th

Sandown 3.35
Betfair London National Handicap Chase
Class 2 0-150
3m4f166y – Going: Good to Soft – 14 runners

Houblon Des Obeaux
Is 12 going on 13, but successful reappearance in veterans’ chase at Sandown last month, held up, mistakes 2nd and 3rd, headway and midfield 6th, tracked leaders 9th, sent on after 10th, drew clear 11th and went 8 lengths clear 12th, in close to 15th, not so far ahead 17th where in close, not fluent 3 out (normally 4 out), travelled much the best as drew further clear again passing omitted 3 out, pushed along from 2 out, stayed on well before and after last, ridden out, unchallenged from the reopposing Dark Flame. Tougher task here and this longer trip doesn’t suit him as well (over 3m4f or more his closest finish is 9 lengths, his best position 3rd)
Royal Vacation
Could not be more in and out, but good run last time in Badger Beers at Wincanton on November 9th, tracked leaders 15th, disputed lead 17th, every chance 3 out, soon hard ridden, outpaced from 2 out, hard driven, still half a chance last, no extra final 150 yards as 1st 2 pulled clear, kept on to be 3rd to Give Me A Copper. His two best runs last season were over around 3m4f, so chances here despite a maximum mark
Step Back
In April 2018, made a lot of the running to take bet365 Gold Cup that April. Didn’t turn up at any point last season and best effort in the latest renewal of the bet365, disputed lead from 17th, couldn’t go with leader from 3 out, well held 2 out, kept on and 19 lengths 3rd to Talkischeap. Tends to need his seasonal debut and probably needs to come down in the handicap
Carole’s Destrier
Won this back in 2015. Best performance last season when arguably a fortunate winner at Newbury in March – his second course win of the season, both those his first wins since December 2015; slow 10th, rear of main group approaching 14th, niggled along away from 16th, struggling 5 out, pushed along and stayed on from 4 out, put under pressure and made ground to challenge for 3rd 3 out, soon took the place and continued to close on 1st 2, sustained effort and went 2nd approaching last, had 6 lengths to find when clear leader Theatre Guide blundered, hard driven, stayed on well, closed on leader, switched 100 yards out, strong effort to lead close home, going away at the post. When last seen out made no contribution in the Scottuish Grand National at Ayr, blundered 12th, effort after 5 out and keeping on in midfield approaching 4 out where blundered, weakening when eased off and pulled up before 2 out. Might have picked up some scraps but for the error at the fourth last. Fitness has to be taken on chance, but well in on old form
Dragon D’Estruval
Didn’t progress over hurdles last season and was tried over fences in June in Perth Gold Cup at Perth, good ground and tracked leaders 4 out, pushed along home turn, hard ridden from 3 out, every chance 2 out, ridden, hard driven and a length down last, hard driven, faded last 175 yards, losing ground on 1st 2 close home, 3rd to Indian Temple. Not so good at Ascot on his reappearance behind Militarian but it wasn’t totally without merit, midfield 12th, pushed along 15th, not fluent 3 out, looked well held, kept on from between last 2 and going on a bit run-in, closing on 4th last strides. Not stopping at the end, but not bred to stay this trip and has been hard to win with since joining current connections
Sharp Response
Best run last season when winning North Yorkshire Grand National over 3m6f at Catterick in January, led 14th, pushed along in 2-length lead approaching 3 out, poured it on going to last and drew further clear of Little Bruce. Like many of his stable’s representatives, needed his reappearance – in his case a distant 6th to Mysteree at Kelso in October – then back to some sort of form at Haydock last month, pushed along starting final circuit, not fluent 13th, stayed on from 15th under a ride and in touch with leaders turning out of back straight, put under strong pressure after 4 out, stayed on into 2nd 3 out, no impression on Crievehill 2 out under a ride, clear in 2nd last, ridden, kept on till faltered last 100 yards and stride shortened markedly but not in danger of losing the place. High enough in the weights, but proven over this extreme trip
Coningsby
Only got as far as the 1st at Ascot on reappearance in the race won by Militarian, then carried on for a while riderless. Comes here unexposed and got first chase win at Exeter last March,  led going comfortably 12th, reached for 13th, was joined home turn, ridden approaching 4 out, led a length there, pushed clear before mistake 3 out, put under pressure before mistake 2 out, hard ridden and all out approaching last, led 7 lengths, ridden out, just about all out, unchallenged from Garrane. Needs more, and didn’t exactly shape as though wanting further judged on the way he finished the Exeter race, but has earned his chance in this better race
Vinnie Lewis*
Best effort last season when 2nd to Commodore at Sandown in March, tracked leaders 9th, pushed along turning out of back straight, hard driven after 3 out, outpaced as Commodore went clear by 2 out, kept on, no impression when hit last, stuck to task run-in. Ran well to a point on reappearance in Durham National at Sedgefield in October, chased leader 10th, lost ground going to 18th but remained prominenrt at that point, niggled along 19th, stayed on into 2nd when ridden into 20th and bumped a loose horse, every chance 3 out, upsides leader home turn, ridden along, no more from 2 out, lost places, faded approaching last, no more run-in though lost no further ground, 6th to The Caller. Looks accurately treated and the trip suits (Sussex National winner in the past)
Classic Ben*
Won Class 2 handicap chase at Sandown back in February, up with the pace, disputed lead 3 out, hard driven after 2 out, the better jump last, driven out, stayed on well run-in. Didn’t shape badly in Anne Duchess Of Westminster Chase at Bangor on reappearance, chased leader, niggled along to hold place 4 out, every chance when mistake 3 out, hard ridden, lost place home turn, faded, looked held 2 out, kept on from last, faded late and lost 3rd post behind clear winner Graceful Legend. With the run behind him has a chance here
Shanroe Santos
Probably best run last season when 2nd at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, outpaced and niggled along in a prominent to midfield-position 16th, went 6 lengths 3rd 17th, a bit further back 18th, pushed along and stayed on into 8 to 10 lengths 2nd 3 out, ridden and started to close on Beware The Bear approaching 2 out, jumped left there, hard ridden, stayed on, some 6 lengths down last, continued to close on winner till no more 150 yards out.  Lost place final circuit in Southern National at Fontwell on reappearance, staying on again at the end; lost place 12th and towards rear, not fluent 13th and briefly pushed along, left well behind and looked like tailing off when 15 to 20 lengths down 4 out, began to keep on approaching 3 out, still well held 2 out though closing on those ahead, went 4th last, driven, kept on, no extra last 75 yards, looked heavy-legged, 4th to One Of Us beaten 6 lengths. Is off a good mark, but then again he was at Fontwell
Get On The Yager
As has been the case since March 2018, isn’t in any sort of form and on reappearance at Cheltenham in October made no contribution, held up rear, niggled along and struggling when mistake 13th, tailing off 14th, soon pulled up. At last connections are doing something about his slump, by fitting him with cheekpieces and a tongue-strap, and he is well treated on old form
Rathlin Rose
Took part in the Velka Pardubicka in October and finished 6th to Theophilos, but seems to have been feeling the effects and when last seen was 61 lengths 9th to Diesel D’Allier in the cross-country at Cheltenham last month, in touch till weakening 4 out and well held under a ride 2 out, tailed off last; has finished well held on all starts over around 3m4f or more anyway
Dark Flame*
Useful at his best. Was returning from a 736-day absence last time, running a stormer considering at Sandown last time behind today’s rival Houblon Des Obeaux, was badly bumped in the air over 8th and dropped to last, niggled along 11th as pace increased, started to stay on from 14th, headway and midfield passing omitted 3 out closing on those ahead, sustained effort under a ride and stayed on into 2nd 2 out, stuck to task, looked held last, stayed on run-in, was closing on winner last 100 yards but too much ground to make up. Clearly retains all his ability and shaped as though this extreme trip wouldn’t be a problem
Doing Fine
Despite winning at Fontwell on reappearance, not the force of old and in a bigger field/more competitive race, didn’t really have a winning chance at Cheltenham on October 25th, niggled along starting final circuit, more firmly pushed along after 12th, looked more likely to be tailed off at the top of the hill, started to stay on approaching 3 out, passed beaten ones under a ride, sustained effort and chance of a place 2 out, no room before not fluent last, put under pressure, went 4th and stuck to task last 100 yards, 4th to Plantagenet. Typically gets behind and makes mistakes; has run well in this race in the past but difficult to fancy this time

Shortlist: Vinnie Lewis, Classic Ben, Dark Flame

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