The 32Red Handicap Chase is likely to prove the biggest betting heat of the day on a competitive card at Sandown and it’s no surprise that several of the big national hunt yards are represented.
Nicky Henderson runs two with November’s Cheltenham winner Tanks For That heading the weights and available at 9/2 with Paddy Power. The choice of stable jockey Barry Geraghty, he has plenty in common with stablemate Dave’s Dream, however, as both departed at the fourth-last behind Astracad at Cheltenham last time. Dave’s Dream (10/1 with William Hill) has still to win in handicap company over fences and remains high enough in the weights, while King Edmond (8/1 with Paddy Power) was raised 7lb for winning at Ascot last month, though regular jockey Tom Cannon again takes off 5lb with his claim and his partner has been on good terms with himself in general since the autumn.
Hold Fast could also be interesting as he’s weighted to reverse running with Newbury winner Rileyev (5/1 with Paddy Power) on better terms. The eight-year-old was having his first run for Paul Nicholls that day so is likely to improve and can be backed at 11/2 with William Hill, though he can take the odd liberty with his fences which won’t aid his cause on the tricky Esher circuit. Nomcheki‘s comeback second at Chepstow seems a long time ago now and he’s worth opposing at William Hill‘s 25/1 while Darceys Dancer (16/1 with the same firm) may struggle at this level and Pret A Thou (9/1 with Victor Chandler and Paddy Power) likes very soft ground, which he had when just touched off in the Castleford Chase at Wetherby over Christmas. That leaves All For Free.
This is undoubtedly a step up in grade for Martin Keighley‘s six-year-old but his chase career has come on in leaps and bounds over the last few weeks. He annihilated a field of novices at Ascot and also had plenty in hand when scoring under a penalty at Ludlow five days later. He’s possibly the only one of these still on an upward curve and looks well worth a bet to complete the hat-trick at William Hill’s 9/2.