7 Jan 2017

32Red Casino Handicap Chase (Class 2)

Assuming the forecast is right and Sandown avoids overnight frost, the Esher venue hosts the best of this Saturday's action on Tolworth Hurdle day.

The final of the veterans' chase series is sure to prove popular with backers, but the race that interests me is the 2-mile handicap chase earlier on the card, which is normally won by an improving chaser with decent form.

This century, by far the most successful group of runners fit this profile - max 9 previous chase starts, single figure SP and a maximum handicap mark of 147.

Since 2000 this criteria has produced 28 qualifiers (generally around 3 or 4 per year) and from the annual short-list, the winner has emerged in; 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2015 & 2016. In fact, when you put a line through the years the race wasn't held, there has only actually been one failure since 2004.

Unusually, just one qualifier this year, the Tom Symonds trained HOLLYWOODIEN, a big imposing 6yo French import. Hollywoodien took a major step forward on his last start and dropping back to 2-miles looks fine at this stiffer venue.

Outside this trend a dark horse lurking is ex Gigginstown inmate BRIGHT NEW DAWN, on first start for Venetia Williams. He has quality form around right-handed tracks like Punchestown and has run very well in the past after a break. He's still only 10 and as a 9yo he won a better race than this from the same mark. If Venetia has sweetened him up, he represents a touch of value.

Hollywoodien, 1pt win 7/2
Bright New Dawn, 0.5pt win 10/1 generally

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance at: WWW.ENIGMARACING.NET/RACING-FORUM

** Feedback: both solid without being quite good enough on the day, 3rd and 4th respectively **

The testing chase finish at Sandown Park
The testing chase finish at Sandown Park racecourse....

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