Gerri Colombe to fly the flag for Ireland in Scilly Isles Chase
The best of the action this weekend takes place at the Dublin Racing Festival, but there’s an Irish-trained horse making the trip to England which is worth keeping on side.
rained by Gordon Elliott, Gerri Colombe is favourite for the Grade One Virgin Bet Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown (2.20) and trades at 11/10 at the time of writing, but I was expecting him to be odds-on, so I’m happy to take a slice of that.
The seven-year-old, which is Elliott’s only runner in Britain today, has built a nice picket fence next to his name, with six wins from as many races since kicking off his career under rules two years ago at Fairyhouse. Those victories include bumpers, hurdles and two over fences, the most recent being a top-level Grade One at Limerick over Christmas.
One of the most exciting novice chasers in Ireland at the moment, he can make his trip across the water worthwhile for connections, with Jordan Gainford booked to ride.
At the other end of the price scale, Schalke gets the nod at 16/1 or thereabouts in the Virgin Bet Heroes Handicap Hurdle (2.55 Sandown) for Rebecca Menzies, with Irish jockey Aaron Anderson’s 5lb claim giving the eight-year-old an extra boost.
Schalke is up 8lbs to a rating of 124 following his win in a Kelso handicap in December, but I reckon he’s got more to come before the handicapper turns off the tap, and he is in here at the bottom of the weights with 10st 8lbs.
Another one at the bottom of the weights I like today is Movethechains, and with a forecast price of 20/1, I’ll take him each-way in the 14-runner Virgin Bet Masters Handicap Chase (3.30 Sandown).
Gary Moore’s charge notched up four wins from October 2021 to February 2022 which saw his rating rise from 80 to 128, but was then off the track for 315 days.
He certainly wasn’t disgraced on his return to racing when fifth in the Welsh National in December, and the word from the yard is that they feel he’s well treated at the weights with a mark of 127 for today. Waterford native Niall Houlihan claims 3lbs.
In the eight-runner Virgin Bet Dolos Handicap Chase (1.45), Fast Buck is tipped for Jane Williams under Jamie Moore. Expected to go off around 13/2, the nine-year-old landed his first win over fences in December, having last won a race over hurdles in 2019 for Willie Mullins.
He was subsequently trained by Paul Nicholls and Dan Skelton without success, but Williams has got him back on track, and a handicap rating of 127 could be on the low side if Williams can get a bit more out of him.
All credit to the trainer, and it would be great to see the gelding win another couple of races against the bigger yards.
At Musselburgh, The Ferry Master looks overpriced at 20/1 early doors for the Bet365 Edinburgh National Handicap Chase (2.03) for Sandy Thompson under Sean Quinlan.
Fourth in the 2021 Scottish National rated 133, he’s been out of luck in ten races since, but his mark has come right down to 120 which is far below his last winning rating of 128 in November 2020. While ratings come down for a reason, and he’s getting older aged ten, this looks quite open and he can make an impression with a relatively low weight today.
Finally, I’ll have one bet on the Polytrack at Lingfield where Sir Busker stands out at 2/1 in the six-runner Listed Spreadex Sports Tandridge Stakes (3.01).
Trained by William Knight with Ryan Moore taking the reins, the seven-year-old was last seen finishing third of six runners in the Juddmonte International at York back in August, which is not too bad considering he was friendless in the betting at 100/1.
He’d previously won a Group Two at that track, so a race back down at Listed level is well within his scope, although Archie Watson’s Tempus is not easily dismissed here and looks the biggest danger to the bet.
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