Trainer Paul Nicholls Unioniste looks set for victory at Sandown after promising return in the Hennessy
Nicholls’ grey Unioniste looks set for a win in the valuable £30,000 handicap chase after a promising seasonal return in the Hennessy where he finished a credible sixth. With strong previous form in the book including Cheltenham, Newbury and Aintree victories, he is the one to beat. The main danger to him would be a rejuvenated Triolo D’Alene, but the classy Henderson chaser is likely to be anchored by top weight.
In the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle earlier on the card a disappointing small field of four will contest the race. The Ex-French Henderson recruit L’Ami Serge should continue the trainers excellent record.
In the mares hurdle at (12.40) the classy Aurore D’Estruval looks nailed on to beat her rivals, following an excellent second in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle. Crockford expects her price for the Mares Hurdle at the Festival to shorten after the race. She is currently 6/1 with Ladbrokes for a win in March.
CROCKFORD’S DEAD CERT – UNIONISTE (SANDOWN 3.35)
Sixth last time out in the Hennessy, the Nicholls grey will be just right now for a big run in this valuable Sandown handicap chase. The trainer is confident of a bold show and with the field looking thin expect a victory.
CROCKFORD’S WHISPER – BLUE BUTTONS E/W (WINCANTON 2.40)
Talented mare who was fourth last time out at Sandown and can come on from that run. Her class makes her look at good prospect of at least a place in this company.
ARCHER’S SELECTION – AURORE D’ESTRUVAL (SANDOWN 12.40)
Archer would have noted that her form is heads and shoulders above the rest, and for this reason would have be on the Festival Mares Hurdle fancy.
LUCKY CHANCER – SMOOTHTALKINRASCAL E/W (LINGFIELD 2.35)
With odds of around 25/1, it is worth an each way punt on this former big handicap performer. It would not take much for him to win at this grade.
Crockford’s Gambles on Saturday 3 January:
Sandown – Arabian Revolution (12.10), Aurore D’Estruval (12.40), Fairy Rath (1.15), Williams’ Wishes (1.50), L’ami Serge (2.25), Amore Alato and Balgarry e/w (3.00), and Unioniste (3.35)
Lingfield – Castilo Del Diablo (2.00), Smoothtalkinrascal e/w (2.35) and Al’s Memory e/w (3.10)
Wincanton – Blue Buttons e/w (2.40) and Black River (3.15)
Newcastle – Calculated Risk (12.30)
Cork – Show Court (1.45)
(Featured Photograph – Unioniste and Samedifference jump the last at Newbury by Stuart Rice)