Great Britain Preview: Jet Of Magic can be a hero at Sandown

February 3rd, 2023

Contenders for the Cheltenham Festival in Britain this weekend head to Sandown, where the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase (G1) and the Heroes Handicap Hurdle headline the meet. There’s also a Grade 2 event at Wetherby for novice staying chasers.

We will focus on the Heroes Handicap Hurdle, where some good prices are likely to be available, and offer spot plays for the graded races.

Sandown, Race 5, 9:55 a.m. ET: Heroes Handicap Hurdle, 2 7/8 miles, open hurdlers

Heroes Handicap Hurdle Selections

  • #12 Jet Of Magic
  • #1 Flight Deck
  • #4 Remastered

Heroes Handicap Hurdle Wagers

  • $10 win/$30 show: #12 Jet Of Magic
  • $1 trifecta: 1, 12 with 1, 4, 12 with 1, 4, 9, 12, 13, 14

If you’re wanting money-making opportunities, this might be the race to choose from Sandown, with favorites as long as 6-1 in local markets. Last year’s winner #9 Green Book is back, though he’ll need to improve on his first-up sixth at Chepstow behind #1 Flight Deck, who looks a great chance. Don’t forget the runner-up from that race either, #14 Bells of Peterboro, especially if the track is soft.

#4 Remastered has raced well over big fences lately, but he still retains plenty of ability over hurdles, as he showed when winning at Aintree Nov. 5. Down the weights, #12 Jet Of Magic and #13 Coquelicot are in solid form.

I’m always one for young horses on the way up in British handicaps, and the one that makes sense to me is Jet Of Magic, a solid second to Hector Javilex at Cheltenham last start, with Flight Deck and Remastered the biggest dangers.

Sandown, Race 4, 9:20 a.m. ET: Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase (G1), 2 1/2 miles, novice steeplechasers

Five horses line up here, four of which look to be winning chances. It’s mainly a trial for the Turners’ Novice Chase (G1) at Cheltenham over the same trip, though interestingly the favorite, Irish visitor #3 Gerri Colombe, is further up the market for the 3-mile Brown Advisory instead.

Gerri Colombe certainly has a great chance, having beaten good horses in the Faugheen Novice Chase (G1) at Limerick Dec. 26. He handles the 2 1/2-mile trip fine as well. However, he's also entered in a Grade 1 chase in Ireland at the weekend. Even if he makes the journey to Sandown, I’m going with the leading English hope #1 Balco Coastal, who couldn’t have been more impressive when strolling home at Kempton Dec. 26. He is being aimed at the Turners and if he’s to have a chance in that, he’ll want to win here.

  • $20 win: #1 Balco Coastal

Wetherby, Race 4, 9:40 a.m. ET: Towton Novices’ Chase (G2), 3 miles, novice steeplechasers

The likely favorite here is #1 Ballygrifincottage. Fourth in last year’s Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle (G1) at Cheltenham, he took to big fences well with an 11-length romp at Haydock Nov. 30 and is one of England’s best hopes for the Brown Advisory (G1) at Cheltenham.

However, he looks a little short at odds-on, and it’s worth a crack at #2 City Chief, an easy winner Jan. 16 at Hereford for leading trainer Nicky Henderson.

  • $20 win: #2 City Chief