Steve Mullen guides you through Saturday’s racing from the Punchestown Festival, Sandown, Haydock, Ripon, Leicester, Doncaster and Wolverhampton
SUGAR can take the sour taste out of our mouths by winning the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown (3.35).
SUGAR BARON was our fancy for last week’s Scottish Grand National and it was all going so well — until he unseated Nico de Boinville at the very first fence.
To add insult to injury, he was the only one to fall or unship their rider in the entire cavalry charge. It wasn’t really his fault as he was squeezed for room taking off more than making a real jumping error.
Such is life and at least he won’t be tired — just like Vicente who won the Ayr showpiece after falling at the first in Aintree’s version.
Aside from that mishap, Nicky Henderson looks to have an progressive staying chaser on his hands in this seven-year-old.
Before his Scottish mishap, he showed up really well when sixth in the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival. That race is over 3m2f and he was doing his best work towards the finish, boding well for the extra quarter-mile here.
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He is 1lb lower in the weights despite that encouraging effort and looks the type for future Nationals.
Doing Fine looks the main threat and he’s no dark horse after galloping away with a decent handicap at Cheltenham last time. He was suited by the good ground and rattling pace there and he should be guaranteed similar again.
He’s off the same mark and looks another stayer to follow having found plenty of improvement since joining Neil Mulholland’s yard from Rebecca Curtis.
You can get an upset in this and Benbens looks worth a couple of quid each-way. He managed to jump around in the Scottish National and came home well to finish third. He wasn’t put into the race until late on and enjoyed the fast pace.
He’ll get that again and, provided he has come out of Ayr okay, should run well at rewarding odds.
Nicky Henderson isn’t taking any chances in his quest for the trainers’ title — he has half the field in the 4.10.
But his rival Paul Nicholls can take the £28,475 prize money thanks to MODUS.
He improved when finishing a close-up sixth in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham last time and comes here a fresh horse.
This 2m5f trip suits him well as he showed when scooting in at Kempton and he’s earned this step out of handicap company.
He can be a tricky customer but has shown no signs of temperament lately and there could yet be more to come.
The New One will come in for plenty of support and this Grade 2 looks more his level nowadays than the very best contests. He doesn’t face anything in the class of Buveur D’Air who got the better of him at Aintree last time out.
L’Ami Serge has plenty of ability but doesn’t always deliver when it comes to the crunch. The ground may be a little on the quick side too.
TOP NOTCH TIPS
Matt Chapman’s racing tips for ITV’s racing from Sandown and Haydock on Saturday, April 29
Willie Mullins now leads the trainers’ championship after an incredible day at Punchestown
IAN RIDE RIDE RIDE
Legendary jockey Tony McCoy puts Arsenal legend Ian Wright’s horse Born To Finish through its paces
Nicky Henderson admits he is wary of Paul Nicholls’ challenge for the title at Sandown
Cunco continued John Gosden’s scintillating run of form with a win in the bet365 Classic Trial
Gordon Elliott is hoping Labaik is in the right mood for the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle
ALL ON UPSWING
Matt Chapman’s horse racing tips for ITV’s racing from Sandown Park and Wolverhampton
William Haggas reports Mutakayyef will miss the Lockinge and head to Royal Ascot instead
SIZING IT UP
Jessica Harrington hoping Sizing John can continue her incredible season at Punchestown
There’s Flat action at Haydock where EARLY MORNING can land a hat-trick of comeback wins in the 2.05.
Some horses need a break between races and he clearly shows his best form when fresh.
He loves this course, having won here on his most recent visit and finished a close second on his only other trip to Merseyside.
The mile distance is his favourite too and all four of his wins have come over it. The good to firm ground is also ideal as he showed when scoring at Ascot last season from just 4lb lower in the weights.
His toughest nut to crack will be El Vip who blew away the cobwebs with a well-backed third at Bath last time out. That was his first run over the mile after winning his maiden over further. It may well be that this distance will prove a little on the short side again.
3.35 Sugar Baron
5.20 Black Corton
1.30 Chiswick Bay
2.05 Early Morning
2.40 Oh This Is Us
3.45 Beyond Recall
4.20 Cloud Dragon
2.20 Time To Exceed
2.55 Never Back Down
3.30 Above Normal
4.05 Home Of The Brave
5.10 Oasis Charm
2.10 Black Orange
2.45 Father Bertie
3.20 Pipers Note
3.55 Good Run
4.30 Knights Table
5.40 Jack Flash
6.00 Gilded Reflection
7.05 Baltic Eagle
8.05 Rebecca Rocks
5.50 Curzon Line
6.20 Temasek Star
6.50 Believe It
7.50 Every Chance
8.20 Lord Murphy