Published 23 April
Nigel Twiston-Davies went agonisingly close to Scottish National glory at the weekend but compensation could come quickly in the Bet365 Gold Cup.
The trainer is set to have live contenders at both end of the weights headed by BLAKLION, who promises to be an exhilarating sight tackling Sandown’s demanding circuit for the first time.
A superb jumper who was unlucky to be brought down at the first fence in the Grand National last time, the 9yo should save plenty of energy over the obstacles to offset his big weight.
The likelihood of good ground will also help him give weight away all round - as assistant trainer and former leading jockey Carl Llewellyn said pre-Aintree, he’s not a big horse so every pound is an anchor in testing conditions.
That didn’t stop him justifying 7-4 favouritism under 11st 6lb in the Becher Chase there in December though when the manner of his victory suggested an 8lb ratings rise may not stop him.
As well as the ground, another potential plus is the wind surgery he had after finishing a distant second in near-unraceable conditions in Haydock’s Grand National Trial - this effectively will be his first race since.
At the other end of the handicap BIGBADJOHN can be expected to go well as he remains favourably treated on the pick of his form for Rebecca Curtis and made a winning start for Twiston-Davies at Kempton in February.
That was over 3m (same distance as his Reynoldstown success last season) and he finished strongly, confirming his previous trainer’s view that he’s a proper stayer (ran in the four-miler at Cheltenham last year).
He was surprisingly dropped in trip for the Topham last time but an early exit (unseated at the third) was probably a blessing in disguise as it spared him a hard race in unsuitable heavy ground.
The 9yo is not as reliable jumper as his stablemate but he was good at Kempton and the forecast better ground can only help him in that respect.
Recommended Bet (scale 1-5 points):
Bet365 Gold Cup - Sandown Saturday
1pt each way BLAKLION ( 11-1 William Hill, 10-1 general )
1pt each way BIGBADJOHN ( 20-1 bet365, 16-1 general )
Gary provides regular ante-post updates on Twitter. His username is @horsetraderinfo.@horsetraderinfo