Outstanding racing on both sides of the Irish sea today, with the final day of the National Hunt season going right to the wire for jockeys Davy Russell (103 winners) and Ruby Walsh (99) on the fifth and sadly last day of a brilliant Punchestown Festival.
We’ll come to that later, but first up at Sandown the 12/1 with any of bet365, BetVictor, Stan James or Ladbrokes looks too big about the rapidly improving Galileo gelding Leo Luna in the opener at 1.30pm.
He won without even knowing he’d had a race when given a true peach of a ride by Jamie Moore at Bangor last Saturday, a run necessary to qualify for a handicap to enable shrewd connections to have a tilt at this more valuable prize.
It’s a hot contest, but this lad has loads of boot and won’t mind the quicker ground.
Jamie Moore was unlucky not to win on Ubak at Punchestown yesterday, but this might be one in the onion bag for another of his father’s promising inmates.
Sticking with Sandown Park it looks wise to stick with course specialist Sanctuaire in the Celebration Chase at 2.40pm.
The Paul Nicholls trained seven year old seems to reserve his best for the Esher track, careering away with this race by 17 lengths a year ago.
He’s been no match for Sprinter Sacre in three attempts this season, but with the undisputed heavyweight champ safely tucked up in his box after Tuesday’s Punchestown exhibition, the coast looks clear for Sanctuaire to get back to winning ways at 7/2 with any of bet365, BetVictor, Coral, Ladbrokes or William Hill.
Back here in Punchestown it’s a book of five rides for Ruby Walsh and four for Davy Russell as the former bids to pull off a spectacular smash and grab final day heist on the jockey’s title.
In all likelihood he’ll fall just short, but a couple of a ‘R Walsh’ ridden winners look likely nonetheless…
The prices are nothing to get the juices flowing, but they will be more than acceptable for anyone playing them up in multiples, as 4/6 shot Tarla looks a clear pick in the 2m 2f Grade 1 Mares Hurdle at 4.25pm.
Deep ground is right up her street, Ruby had the pick between her and improving stablemate Glens Melody, plus she has upwards of 10lbs in hand on each of her four rivals on official ratings.
Also in Grade 1 company, the first-time hooded Diakali ought to prove up to netting the AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle at 5.00pm.
The Triumph Hurdle fourth is only 5/6 with the likes of Coral or William Hill, but with no Our Conor on display he can see off three stablemates plus Stocktons Wing and One Fine Day to take the bragging rights.
After all, he is a course and distance winner who operates on this deep ground.
Saturday’s best bets:
2.40 Sandown – bet365.com Celebration Chase – 5 Sanctuaire (win) @ 7/2 (bet365, BetVictor, Coral, Ladbrokes or William Hill)
4.25 Punchestown – ITBA Fillies Scheme EBF Mares Hurdle – 5 Tarla (win) @ 4/6 (general)