Sandown Jumps Finale Day | Whacker a Real class Act

Punchestown Festival

Well, the British jumps season proper is going into hibernation very soon which means it’s time for the annual Sandown Jumps Finale Day.

Most years, this card is a cracker, but this season in particular promises to be well-above average thanks to Willie Mullins’ multiple-pronged attack.

El Fabiolo, Nick Rockett, and Impaire Et Passe certainly add plenty of intrigue, but here are my plays for Sandown’s Saturday card.


1:50 Sandown – Court In The Act @ 11/1 with William Hill – 1pt EW

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The opener – as expected with a novices’ handicap hurdle finale worth £100,000 – is a proper race with 20 runners and nearly 20 different cases, but Court In The Act can take this off a lenient mark of 119.

A few horses in here, notably Secret Squirrel and Fiercely Proud, have form that ties in with Lump Sum and Jeriko Du Reponet in one way or another but they are weighted accordingly.

As for Court In The Act, he won a hot maiden hurdle at Kempton on good ground on Boxing Day when beating Onethreefivenotout (second to Lump Sum on undesirable heavy ground at Wincanton in November), Moon Chime, and Sea Invasion (third to Jeriko Du Reponet at Newbury on his previous start).

Collateral form is a dangerous game to play, but when that much stacks in in one horse’s favour, it’s hard to ignore.

Furthermore, Moon Chime was third in a hot Listed Cheltenham bumper (won by Brechin Castle) on his previous start, a race that has seen Fire Flyer come out of and beat Secret Squirrel at Taunton.

Harry Derham is operating at a 32% strike rate currently, so as long as tomorrow morning’s rain doesn’t affect the ground too much, Court In The Act has a great chance to land the opener.


2:25 Sandown – The Real Whacker @ 5/2 with BetVictor – 1pt Win

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Ah, The Real Whacker, my old friend.

Having backed him to win the Gold Cup one too many times than I’d like to admit, he’s back into calmer waters on Saturday in what is a winnable race.

Although he pulled up in the Grade 1 Cheltenham Gold Cup, he was running well from the front for a while, but the quality of the race mixed with the soft ground saw his effort thwarted coming down the hill.

Prior to that, he ran a good race in the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase, a race in which Ahoy Senor has come out to frank the form. Furthermore, although he pulled up at both Cheltenham and Ayr, finishing ahead of Stay Away Fay is a good marker in my book.

2m6f on better ground is something that I think will suit him whereas Hitman has had issues on good ground in the past (beaten by Zanza in last year’s Grade 2 Denman Chase) and there’s a possibility that The Real Whacker could get a freebie from the front.


3:00 Sandown – Jonbon @ 2/1 with William Hill – 1pt Win

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El Fabiolo against Jonbon is a clash to savour, especially due to the fact it’s at a track away from Cheltenham, but there’s a lot going for the latter in order to make me back him.

His course record is golden having won on all three of his starts, and his form is top class.

He beat subsequent Champion Chase winner Captain Guinness in the Grade 1 Celebration Chase last year and it’s hard to ignore his duo of successes over Edwardstone who then bolted up in the Grade 2 Game Spirit Chase at Newbury in February.

It’s feasible to think that Jonbon can force a mistake or two from El Fabiolo, and when you look deeply into El Fabiolo’s form, beating Fil Dor by nearly five lengths in the Grade 2 Hilly Way Chase can be questioned.

So, it’s bold, but Jonbon is the side of the fence that I am on.


3:35 Sandown – Le Milos @ 10/1 with SkyBet & Weveallbeencaught @ 14/1 with SkyBet – 0.5pts EW

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As stated on the Only Fools Love Horses YouTube channel earlier this week, two make the most appeal in the Bet365 Gold Cup.

The first is Le Milos who has been trained for this race by Dan Skelton, one of the sharpest operators when it comes to these big handicaps this season.

He won the Coral Gold Cup on good ground off a mark of 146 in 2022 and he is just three pounds higher than that winning mark.

Furthermore, the runner-up, Remastered, bolted up at Kempton on his next start while Corach Rambler and Annsam went on to better things, one more so than the other.

As for Weveallbeencaught, his best form comes on better ground having finished third to Flooring Porter and stablemate Broadway Boy, two horses who need no introduction when it comes to their class, at Cheltenham in October.

As a novice hurdler, he finished third to Hermes Allen in a Grade 2 novice hurdle on his first start over obstacles on good ground, so a mark of 132 could look silly by the end of Saturday.


5:20 Sandown – Mahons Glory @ 14/1 with William Hill – 1pt EW

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Patrick Neville has two horses running at Sandown on Saturday and I fancy both to hit the frame, though Mahons Glory is the biggest-priced contender of the pair.

Like the opener, the last race is a corker, but the profile of Neville’s eight-year-old appeals to me despite his mark of 136 which wouldn’t make him the best-handicapped horse in the race.

The Fame And Glory gelding had a plan earlier this season of running in a Graded race on his first start for a long time and then winning a handicap, as shown by his win at Kempton on Boxing Day.

After 107 days away from the track, he bucked out like a rocket in the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle two weeks ago and faded badly, much like he did in the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle in December.

However, after his Kempton handicap success, Neville explained that “the last day just knocked some of the gas out of him”, so one can hope Aintree has done the same.

If this is the case, I don’t think a mark of 136 has got to the bottom of his potential, and you don’t have to go too far back to see his Aintree maiden hurdle victory over the likes of Heezer Geezer (who was subsequently second to Stay Away Fay off level weights), Mexico, Ginny’s Destiny, and Young Buster.

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