A massive weekend of racing awaits with high-class action on offer at Sandown on Saturday, Musselburgh’s trials weekend taking place up north and Leopardstown hosting the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival.
More from Leopardstown to follow but the first idea of a winner this weekend comes from the Kerry Lee-trained Top Gamble in two-mile handicap chase at Sandown (13:15) on Saturday.
Top Gamble was good enough to compete in Grade One company through 2017 and produced a fine effort to finish fourth in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March.
Ordinarily, his stablemate Gino Trail would rank as a significant danger for this race, but he is a confirmed front runner and the presence of another such like in Big Jim could derail both their challenges if they take each other on.
Top Gamble ran a fine race at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day on heavy ground over a 2m5f trip that would have stretched his stamina in the conditions. Now back over the optimal two-miles, he gets 2lb relief from the handicapper and once more has the excellent services of young James Bowen to assist.
At 11/4, in a race that could fall into his lap, Top Gamble is worth siding with.
Later on the Sandown card, Paul Nicholls’ Samtegal is capable of a big run at odds of 8/1 in the Betfred Mobile Masters Handicap Chase (15:35).
The nine-year-old was a highly-promising chaser in the 2015/16 season before enduring a long layoff. He’s shown useful form in three runs back this season and remains unexposed now going up to three-miles.
With the Ditcheat team in fine fettle right now (4-13 lately), expect Samtegal to run a big race at what appears a generous opening show of 8/1.
Just before that race, all eyes will be trained on Leopardstown for the Irish Champion Hurdle and Faugheen’s latest comeback.
Brilliant in the Morgiana Hurdle in November after 600-odds day off, ‘The Machine’ was broke at Leopardstown over Christmas.
Another flop now could spell the end of the ten-year-old. The reports from Closutton are positive and a fully firing Faugheen will surely make odds of 1/1 look very generous.
Leopardstown boasts some magnificent clashes across their two days, with Min taking on Yorkhill and Footpad against Petit Mouchoir amongst Saturday’s treats.
On Sunday the much-vaunted Samcro is likely to give his latest masterclass while at Musselburgh we might see the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner in waiting when Nicky Henderson saddles the exciting Claimantakinforgan on Sunday.
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