9th March 2013, 7:50pm
Sandown Betting: Top weight Many Clouds can take EBF Final at Sandown for Sherwood
2.05 Sandown: EBF National Hunt Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final (Grade 3) (2m4f)
It looked like hard work at Sandown on Friday after persistent rain and many thought we would be racing on good ground this weekend but now we revert back to soft if not worse by the time the meeting kicks off on Saturday. The EBF Final is always a very competitive affair but often goes to a classy type as it did twelve months ago with Ambion Wood who carried top weight to victory. Many Clouds shoulders 11st 12lbs this time round for Oliver Sherwood and has a similar profile, he is a 9/1 shot with Stan James at the moment and looks fair value at that.
The 6yo has won twice this season in very soft ground and over this trip; he battled on gamely last time to outpoint a Nicholls hot pot at Exeter and lost nothing in defeat when second to the very useful Up And Go before that. Early favourite for the race is Edmund Kean, another 6yo trained this time by David Pipe, he won a point to point over three miles before joining present connections so will have no problem with this trip on this ground. He won at Fakenham and then followed up in a better race at Taunton to earn his mark of 130 and he hasn’t stopped improving yet and must be a live threat to all especially hailing from such a shrewd yard in this type of race.
Nicky Henderson has sent Whisper here instead of the Festival next week; he reckons the horse will be better with another years experience before going there but should be up to running well in this grade. He was a distant fourth to At Fishers Cross which probably made up their minds about Cheltenham but did nothing wrong last time when bolting up in a weak race. The yards second runner Close Touch might be the one to concentrate on for now, owned by the Queen and the choice of Barry Geraghty he won two races in decent fashion and then was second to African Gold at Doncaster which is very solid form, I’m just not sure he wants it too soft though. Golden Hoof also represents Henderson but the last time he stepped up in class he was easily brushed aside and looks high enough in the weights.
La Reve is interesting for Lucy Wadham, he ran three times without troubling the judge and then won at Market Rasen last time out beating Up To Something in a close finish, there shouldn’t be much between those pair again here but La Reve has more scope. Evan Williams is in form at the moment and he saddles Barrakilla, he has won his last two races and wont mind the soft ground. Keith Reveley thinks a lot of his Special Catch and was very disappointed when he was beaten at Catterick last time, no excuses were given that day and needs to bounce back to get involved here. Kings Lad could go well for the Tizzard’s, every one of his races has been in decent company and hasn’t been disgraced in any of them including last time out behind the progressive Mr Watson at Cheltenham, he’s up 5lbs for that but this step up in trip could see further improvement.
Very interesting renewal of the EBF Final, plenty of progressive horses on show here that could be ahead of the handicapper. A race that should revolve around those at the top end of the weights although there is only 12lbs between the lot of them. I like Many Clouds from the Sherwood yard and he could repeat the fete of last year’s winner by carrying top weight to victory. As an alternative I think Kings Lad should go very well, his form is rock solid and if he stays the extra distance he will be a danger to all.
1pt Many Clouds 9/1 Paddy Power
1pt EW Kings Lad 18/1 Coral
Author: Graham Sarson