Stormy Island should be hard to beat in Sandown Mares’ race

A relatively quiet Saturday for Paul Nicholls who will saddle four runners at Sandown, with perhaps Stormy Ireland set to kick off his afternoon with a winner…

Will be hard to beat in this easier grade

12:40 – Stormy Ireland

Chasing didn’t work out for her in two starts this season so she was back over hurdles last time when she ran much better than her finishing position suggests in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham three weeks ago. That has sharpened her up and this Listed Mares’ Hurdle is a more suitable target for Stormy Ireland who has a 4lbs penalty to carry for winning a Grade 3 race in Ireland. I’d say she should be hard to beat stepping up in trip against her own sex.

Still high in the handicap despite losing-run

13:50 – San Benedeto

While he has done brilliantly for us over the years he still has a high enough handicap mark given that he hasn’t won for 21 months. He has run well up to a point in both starts this season, isn’t the easiest to place and would prefer better ground than he is likely to find at Sandown.

This has been the target for a while now

15:00 – Sametegal

This veterans race has been the target for Sametegal ever since he finished sixth of nineteen in the Grand Sefton Chase over the National fences at Aintree. He is so consistent he doesn’t get much help from the handicapper and he ran as well as ever when a close third behind Step Back at Sandown over three miles early in November. Sametegal loved his day out with the Blackmore and and Sparkford Hunt the other day. I expect him to run his usual honest race though he does find it hard to win.

Progressing quickly and will love the ground

15:35 – Friend Or Foe

He was just chinned on the line at Huntingdon before coming good in style at Wincanton in mid December, winning easily by 11 lengths. That prompted the handicapper to raise him 13lbs to a mark of 141 which makes life a bit tougher for him in this Class 2 handicap. He is progressing quite quickly, will love the ground and if he handles the track at Sandown he should go close.