Robin Goodfellow: Starring role for Choice at Lingfield but things looking bleak for Sandown

After the amazing scenes at Cheltenham on New Year's Day, Saturday’s meeting at Sandown could yet be handed a stay of execution despite the weather forecast appearing bleak.

Jeff Pearce

Polytrack campaign: Jeff Pearce

However, clerk of the course Andrew Cooper is not optimistic and it may pay to concentrate on the all-weather in the search for winners.

STAR CHOICE (Lingfield, nap, 3.15) is unlikely to be the first choice for Saturday punters, but there are sound reasons for believing that this five-year-old can run a big race in the mile-and-a-half handicap.

Firstly, he was entitled to need his first run back from a four-month absence at today’s venue where he ran encouragingly before being beaten five lengths by Chalice Welcome

The handicapper has handed Jeff Pearce’s charge further respite for that defeat and it is not difficult to imagine the gelding’s handler was keen to keep his charge fresh for a Polytrack campaign as his form figures on the sand read very respectably: 132024251450.

There is always a chance Star Choice may need another run to blow away the cobwebs, but Fergus Sweeney takes over in the saddle today from the trainer’s son Simon and the nap has been found a very winnable race if he has stepped forward from his reappearance.

TAMINO (Lingfield, nb, 1.35) is not a horse to plunge on at a short price but, in the hope he is ridden with the similar restraint that saw him finish an unlucky runner-up earlier in the week, he is fancied to register another win.

Rider Jimmy Quinn settled the seven-year-old behind the speed on Wednesday and his mount travelled sweetly before hitting the front when his rivals dropped away at the two-furlong marker.

Unfortunately, Tamino was then a target for unconsidered 50-1 outsider Bold Rose who flew down the middle of the track late on under an inspired ride to lead on the line.

Hopefully this time Quinn can hang on to his mount until the last possible moment and deliver him close home with a winning challenge.



Karabak, who was a highly creditable second to Big Buck’s in the rearranged Long Walk Hurdle at Newbury on Tuesday, could head straight to the Ladbrokes World Hurdle in March, according to trainer Alan king. King said: ‘We will have a look at the Cleeve Hurdle, in which we could meet Big Bucks 8lb better, but Karabak is definitely best fresh, so we could well go straight to the Festival for the World Hurdle.’

Sentry Duty also has the Ladbrokes World Hurdle in his sights after toying with his two rivals in the Freedom Hurdle at Cheltenham yesterday. Nicky Henderson’s gelding, who is 16-1 for the Festival stamina test, could be back for the three-mile Cleeve Hurdle later this month to try to find if he has the stamina to justify a crack at Big Buck’s in the World Hurdle.

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