Making the grade

We are going to look at the two major races at Sandown this afternoon, both will be significant yardsticks for the season.

The going is Good to Soft and whilst a dry day is forecast, the temperature is not expected to get above 3 Celsius after being below zero overnight. As usual, I will be getting a first-hand course report in time to brief members with my betting plans later this morning.

A further inpection is planned for 10 a.m. but officials are very optimistic that racing will go ahead.

1.45 1m7½f Henry VIII Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4yo+)

A cracking novice chase with all five runners capable of winning further races.

Brain Power made a big impression on chase debut at Kempton.

He looks sue to be a big player come the ‘spring festival’ meetings.

Finian’s Oscar is also a top class prospect.

However, he could be vulnerable dropping back to 2 miles against a horse of the class of Brain Power.

On my private tissue I have them provisionally priced as follows:

Brain Power           13/8

Finian’s Oscar        5/2

Capitaine                13/2

North Hill Harvey  7/1

Sceau Royale         12/1


Brain Power

2.55 1m7½f Betfair Tingle Creek Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4yo+)

Fox Norton sets a very high standard and looks to be still progressing. His reappearance win at Cheltenham was impressive.

The only negative I can find is that he’s possibly better going left-handed. He had to be hard ridden to win at right-handed Punchestown last season, but even so that form is high class.

Of the opposition Sir Valentino looks to be overpriced. Currently around 20/1 with the books. He returned to form on latest start and is expected to run well.

My early tissue:

Fox Norton       4/6

Politologue       11/2

Sir Valentino    13/2

Ar Mad             20/1

San Benedeto  25/1

Charbel             25/1

Fox Norton

Peter Walwyn MBE

The sad news was announced yesterday that Peter Walwyn had died. Like many others I would like to pay tribute to one of the true greats of horse racing. His achievements as a trainer are legendary.

I first met Peter and his wife, known to all as ‘Bonk’ at Newbury many years ago. My first and lasting impression of Peter was of his warmth and passion for racing.

We met and spoke over the ‘phone numerous times over the years and I was always impressed by his knowledge and forward thinking.

Lambourn and racing generally owes this man of his word a huge debt of gratitude in so many areas.

He has laid a foundation for significant advancement in racing welfare and inclusiveness which I hope will be taken forward in his name.

Delightful company and a true gentleman. I will miss him.

Peter Walwyn trained Grundy, ridden by Pat Eddery, just gets the better of Bustino in the King George. An epic battle described as the ‘Race of the century.’