Cultram Abbey caught the eye when winning at Kelso over 2m6f. That was his first start of the season and this galloper did well considering the well travelling Upsilon Bleu set a strong gallop before fading a furlong out. Cultram Abbey was doing his best work nearing the finish line and will appreciate stepping back up in trip on this stiffer course. He should progress from his first run and did well hunter chasing last season wining once and placing on a few other runs. Nicky Richards will have had this valuable prize in mind and travels south with a live winning chance with this lightly raced 12 year old on a good mark and carrying a tidy weight of 10-13.
Rathlin Rose has a very good chance off a mark of 130 with Tom Scudamore taking over riding duties. The good to soft ground rather than heavy is great news for his connections and he ran a nice race in the qualifier over course and distance in November. The main piece of form I like is when he won at Ascot beating No Duffer in March of last season. Rathlin Rode was impeded on the landing side of the first fence that day losing some ground when shifted to the rear of the field. Nevertheless he cruised through the race and looked the winner rounding into the finishing straight. His jumping was good that day and he quickened well up the straight to win easier than the official winning distance of just over two lengths suggests. That Ascot win was from a 2lb lower mark of 128 so he is handicapped to run a big race and has 10-12 on his back. Another major positive is his course record standing at 3 wins and a runner up place from six runs.
Sandown 3.00 PM
1/2 Point Each Way Cultram Abbey (12/1 William Hill & Betvictor paying 5 places)
1/2 Point Each Way Rathlin Rose (8/1 generally look for bookies paying 5 places)
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