Ed Quigley: A strong two point selection at Sandown on Saturday
Sandown on Saturday is always a wonderful occasion and there are some fascinating contests due to take place at the Esher venue. With the likelihood of spring ground and plenty of sunshine, NUBE NEGRA would be my main fancy on the card in the Celebration Chase (3.00).
Obviously reigning champion Greaneteen is the one to fear most, but with drying ground coming massively in the favour of the Dan Skelton runner he gets the nod. The key appears to be freshness for Nube Negra, who has a terrific record off the back of a break and the eight-year-old should be absolutely tuned to the max for this assignment having been forced to miss the Champion Chase at last month's Cheltenham Festival with the monumental amounts of rain that fell at Prestbury Park, as connections pulled him out late doors.
That is a blessing in disguise in regards to this encounter and I expect him to be tough to beat.
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The Oaksey Chase looks a tricky one to call, with the big unknown being how much fuel many of these horses have left in the tank at the end of a long hard season. The likes of Hitman, Saint Calvados and Mister Fisher soak up a lot of this ante post market but had what appeared to be hard races at Aintree at the start of the month.
This is a fairly quick turnaround, and at a double figure price, it may be worth chancing the progressive DO YOUR JOB for the Michael Scudamore team. He won in commanding fashion in a Grade 2 at Ayr three weeks ago, and looks to be improving with experience and with going up in trip.
On the back of what we have seen, his jumping has improved noticeably on his last couple of starts, and this extended 2m6f looks as though it will be perfect for him. I am not sure that in reality, he has as much to find as official figures would suggest.
Do Your Job
I am going to have a small play on the Mark Bradstock trained STEP BACK in the Bet365 Gold Cup.
At 12 years of age, he could be gone at the game, as recent evidence doesn't knock you over with enthusiasm. However, he has career form figures at Sandown of 3131, with the most recent success being a win in November 2020 off a mark of 142. Before that he won this race in 2018 off a mark of 135, and in 2019 was 3rd off 145. He has plummeted down the weights to a mark of 130.
Off that rating and given his price, he goes into the portfolio for small stakes at a track in which those that handle the track's idiosyncrasies, often come back year after year with solid runs.
Step Back (EW)
Do Your Job, Saturday, Sandown 2.25, 1pt win 12/1 (Hills)
Nube Negra, Saturday, Sandown 3.00, 2pts win 7/4 (General)
Step Back, Saturday, Sandown 3.32, 0.5pts e/w 40/1 (Hills)
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