Azzerti should go close for King at Sandown

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Friday, 10th March 2017, 7:36 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:11 am
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Douvan will face a maximum of 14 rivals bidding to maintain his unbeaten record over fences in next week’s Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

The dual festival hero has been sublime thus far this term, extending his unbeaten record to nine over fences, and is the 2/7 favourite bidding to complete a hat-trick of Cheltenham success in the spring, following his efforts in the Supreme Novices Hurdle two years’ ago and his facile Arkle success 12 months ago.

He could face stablemates Un De Sceaux and Vroum Vroum Mag with both entered at the five-day stage however, the former is the current 5/2 favourite with BetVictor for the Ryanair Chase 24 hours later, whilst the latter is entered in three races over hurdles at two miles, two and a half and three miles.

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Queen Mother Champion Chase prices from BetVictor: Douvan 2/7, Fox Norton 6/1, Un De Sceaux 8/1, God’s Own, 14/1, 16/1 Bar. Non-runner No-bet

There are few Cheltenham clues at Sandown’s two-day Imperial Cup meeting although there is a £100,000 bonus for any horse winning tomorrow 2m Handicap Hurdle and following-up at next week’s festival.

Both market leaders have Cheltenham entries with Fixe Le Kap (7/2) and William H Bonney (4/1) entered in both the Martin Pipe and County Hurdles respectively.

The latter goes for the in-form yard of Alan King and prior to that I think the yard must go close with Azzerti (2.30) in the 2m Novices Hurdle under regular partner Wayne Hutchinson.

The selection was a winner over hurdles two starts ago at Towcester and impressed when failing to carry a penalty last time out at Newbury, chasing home High Bridge and the Bloomfields horse a 14/1 chance with BetVictor for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Despite conceding weight all round he is a confident selection to go one better at admittedly as an odds-on favourite.

David Pipe’s Rahtlin Rose (3.05) won the Royal Artilery Gold Cup over course and distance four weeks’ ago and should be able to follow-up under the heroic Guy Disney.

The selection stayed on strongly to win by five lengths under Disney, the first amputee to ever win under rules, and is well treated to go in again.

Pipe can complete a double with Mr Clarkson (4.50) in the closing Novices’ Hurdle over two and a half miles. The selection scored for column readers when bolting-up in desperate ground last time out at Sedgefield and should beat the pair of Sneaky Feeling and Sandhurst Lad wit the minimal of fuss.

I’ve been a fan of Evan Williams’ Billy Bronco (3.40) since seeing him finish third on his debut for new connections at Haydock and think he is better than his opening mark of 123 suggests.

The selection built on that promising rules debut by chasing home Nigel Twiston-Davies at Ffos Las, and then made it third time lucky over timber when winning well over three miles at Ayr. I like the decision to drop him back in trip and think he can reward each-way support at his forecast tissue price 13/2 with BetVictor.

Lucy Wadham’s Artifice Sivola (4.15) was narrowly denied the hat-trick when bumping into one of Harry Fry’s on Classic Chase day at Warwick but has conditions to suit to bounce back to winning ways under regular partner Leighton Aspell.

The well-bred son of Dom Alco loves it when the mud if flying and despite being raised 8lb for his three efforts this term looks ahead of his current mark.

Transient Bay (4.30) should go well up at Ayr bidding to follow-up his recent Uttoxeter success under Thomas Dowson, who continues to be good value for his 5lb claim.

The pair scored with the minimal of fuss on his preferred heavy ground four weeks ago and is difficult to oppose for the in-form yard of Phil Kirby.

Another small field for the feature handicap chase over two and a half miles sees Mumgos Debut (5.00) chanced to come good for Lucinda Russell and Grant Cockburn. The nine-year-old has been difficult to get right this term but scored earlier in similar conditions over today’s trip and is chanced against likely odds-on favourite Gold Opera.

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