A fine card at Sandown brings the curtain down on the UK jumps season, and we pick two against the field ROCK THE KASBAH and THE YOUNG MASTER in the bet365 Gold Cup Handicap Chase (3.35).
Rock The Kasbah had been aimed at the Grand National from early season by Philip Hobbs but while things didn't go to plan at Aintree, sweet compensation awaits here in this £84,500 to the winner closing day cracker.
At Liverpool he was out the back door from early, which meant he had to negotiate a way past fallers on more than one occasion. In the end one proved a bridge too far when he was brought down by the falling Jury Duty when starting to make inroads on the second circuit.
If none the worse from that - and he did gallop on encouragingly at Aintree - he can bounce back here and turn the tables on Step Back who beat him well here last season. Of course Step Back ran off a handy 135 mark that time and this time is not running nearly as well and has to race off 145.
Rock The Kasbah has 11 -4 to carry which is above the magic 11 stones mark but he's worth supporting on favourable ground and with the trip not being an issue.
In ways he paid the price last year being the only horse capable of going with Step Back from three out. His form hasn't been as consistent this season but was a highly impressive winner over 3 miles 3 furs. on good ground at Cheltenham in November.
He has twice run very well in this race and it could be third time lucky now under Champion Jockey Richard Johnson.
The Neil Mulholland trained The Young Master is enjoying a great season, having won twice around Cheltenham and finishing third in the Kim Muir. Normally a fine jumper, he did not leap with the normal clinical efficiency in the Kim Muir, possibly because of the softer ground.
Indeed, interestingly, he was pulled up on soft at Newbury in December, so clearly good ground is essential. And the underfoot conditions should be ideal today, hopefully quick but good at worst. That is a big plus for this in form ten year old who won this three years ago off a 6 lbs. higher mark.
Big race specialist Sam Whaley-Cohen gets the leg up so clearly great things are expected from this proven track and trip winner. Sam's 3 lbs. claim means he will carry only 10-5 which is a very attractive mark. I think he has a golden chance and is still only ten and has been kept fresh for this since Cheltenham. Get on!
1/2 Point Each Way The Young Master (10/1 generally, look for bookies paying 5 places)
1/2 Point Each Way Rock The Kasbah (14/1 generally, look for bookies paying 5 places)
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