Champagne Reception Expected In Sandown On Saturday
If there is one thing punters should bear in mind when eyeing up a bet in Saturday’s Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown (2.25pm), and that is the tremendous record of fancied runners.
Of the last 10 Scilly Isles winners…
10 returned 4/1 or shorter
10 ran during the last 31-75 days – others were 0-18
9 were officially rated 145 or higher or had no rating
9 were 5-7yo’s – 6 were 7yo’s
9 made the top two last time
7 ran in a Grade 1 or 2 last time (32%) – the remainder were 3-29 (10%)
6 arrived via Cheltenham (4) or Newbury (2)
P Nicholls won it 4 times, N Henderson 3 times
Indeed, with each of the last 10 winners of this race having returned 4/1 or shorter, backers may not have to look too far beyond those at the head of the betting. One who be at the right end of the market is Philip Hobbs’ Champagne West.
Having won his first two over fences, he then recorded a career best in defeat when chasing home the classy, Ptit Zig, in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day (2m5f, good to soft). Although beaten 6l, Champagne West did bump into a good one that day, and a repeat of that may be good enough at the weekend.
Rated 1lb higher – and the highest in the race – is Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Splash Of Ginge, who bounced back to form in landing a valuable Grade 3 handicap at Cheltenham, again on New Year’s Day (2m5f, good to soft). He is a likeable sort, but will need to pull out more at this level.
However, with that man, Paul Nicholls, having landed this event four times since 2005, his Irish Saint, cannot be overlooked, especially as 6yo’s have such a good record.
A step up to 2m5f worked the oracle for Irish Saint at Ascot last month (good to soft), and having won here on his chase debut last year, he can be expected to improve once more now he has found his trip.
Nicky Henderson has also bagged the prize on three occasions, though, and has entered the 7yo, Josses Hill. Beaten 9l by Ptit Zig on his chase debut, he then had a confidence-booster in small event over 2m several weeks ago. It was a performance that saw his odds for the Arkle trimmed into 7/1, and those odds will be shorter if he lands this.
Willie Mullins could have a rare runner here at Sandown, and has three entered up at the midweek stage – the pick of which is the 6yo, Jarry D’Honneur. The step up to 2m4f in a minor chase at Punchestown saw him jump well for an 8l victory earlier in the month, and he certainly has talent, which will be needed for this foray into Grade 1 company.
A cracking renewal in store, and one that could fall to Champagne West, who only found the classy, Ptit Zig, too good last time, and a repeat of that outing may be good enough to land Saturday’s prize.