Whoever invented veterans’ chase handicaps – for horses aged ten and above – please take a bow. I love them and I have yet to come across anyone in the sport who doesn’t relish the prospect of these old warriors running against each other in their twilight racing years.
Inevitably, horses of this age will be past their prime so it makes sense to have them competing on a level playing field, insofar as they race against rivals broadly their own age. Usually I am happy just to watch such contests without having a bet – but I will make an exception tomorrow for the Unibet Veterans’ Handicap Chase at Sandown (3 p.m.).
This series final is the richest prize of the season in any veterans’ race, with more than £51,000 to the winner. The Grade 1 Unibet Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle on the same card is worth considerably less to winning connections.
I had originally thought of putting up Prime Venture, who won this race last year at 18-1 off a 2lbs lower rating of 130.
However, he had been nibbled at in the market all week from 14-1 down to 6-1 or less, and this is a much tougher contest than it was 12 months ago. Ramses De Teillee, Saint Xavier, Snow Leopardess, Coo Star Sivola and Ballyandy are all classy animals who are in with a shout tomorrow.
Last year, too, everything went right for Evan Williams’s hold-up gelding, with Valadom setting a scorching pace from the off. That’s not guaranteed to happen this weekend.
Prime Venture will have his favoured soft or heavy ground again tomorrow but, all things considered, I am going to overlook him and go instead for a horse at bigger odds.
Harry Fry’s gelding SIR IVAN is 13 years old but he still retains plenty of ability.