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2017 Sandown Gold Cup tips - Nicholls' Man to give Paul a Present at Sandown

Jack Sherwood riding Present Man (left) clear the last to win at Ascot earlier this month.

Our expert takes a look through the ante-post betting for the Sandown Gold Cup Handicap and selects a 

classy contender who could bring the curtain down on the 2016/17 National Hunt season in fitting fashion.

The Sandown Festival provides a fitting finale for the National Hunt season, as the hurdles and fences are put to one side while the flat racers take centre stage. Whilst there are many good quality races on Saturday at Sandown, the most lucrative race is the Sandown Gold Cup Handicap Chase, which provides horses with a stiff test of stamina and jumping over the 29-and-a-half furlong trip.

The current ante-post favourite is The Young Master (15/2 BetVictor), who looks set to return to Sandown to defend his title after bowing out rather earlier than expected in the Grand National. He travelled to Aintree in decent form, following a good sixth in the Ultima Handicap at Cheltenham, but he failed to scale Bechers on the first circuit, sending himself and Sam Waley-Cohen crashing to the turf.

The pair travelled strongly in this contest last season, moving to the front after the final fence and beating the then defending champion, Just A Par (11/1 bet365) to the post by a short head. Last year’s runner-up managed to finish the course at Aintree, improving upon the 14th place finish he recorded in the 2016 Grand National by a single place. Whether Paul Nicholls will send him back to Sandown after that gruelling effort at Aintree is unknown, but if he does line up in the Gold Cup, he has to be considered a contender.

Neil Mulholland decided to skip a trip to Aintree with The Druids Nephew (7/1 bet365) this season, after his charge failed to complete the course on both his attempts in recent renewals. The former Ultima Handicap winner finished seventh on his return to the race back in March and trailed home a distant ninth on his only other appearance of the season in the Listed Silver Cup Handicap at Ascot.

Sam Waley-Cohen (left, brown and orange) rides The Young Master to win this contest last season.

Doing Fine (9/2 bet365) finally clinched a well-deserved victory at Cheltenham earlier this month. Following a run of three successive runner-up finishes in good quality contests, Neil Mulholland’s charge defied a weight of 11-11 to beat a strong field in Class 3 handicap over the same trip he will face today. He will go to post over a stone-and-a-half less than the weight he carried at Cheltenham, he looks extremely well handicapped and deserves his place at the head of the betting.

Philip Hobbs will be delighted with the progress Rock The Kasbah (12/1 bet365) had made this season, following his transition to three mile chasing. Some excellent results have seen his rating rise by 17 pounds since a victory on his October reappearance, but his worst jumping display of the season came around the tricky track here at Sandown, which could be enough to dissuade some undecided punters.

Theatre Guide (22/1 Paddy Power) and Southfield Royale (25/1 bet365) will be burdened with top weight when the Grand National runners inevitably drop out of the entries. Whilst the latter hasn't shown any kind of form in his only two appearances of the season, Theatre Guide remains a very dangerous handicapper and won a Grade 3 Handicap Chase at Cheltenham earlier in the season.

What’s Happening (16/1 bet365) traded victories with the very capable Perfect Candidate on both his regular season starts and put in a decent showing at the Cheltenham Festival to finish tenth in the Kim Muir. He went to post as a 12/1 shot that day, which underlines his quality and the Tom George, AP Heskin partnership has proved particularly profitable this season.

Another excellent chaser at a lengthy price is Le Reve (20/1 bet365), who was involved in a very nasty incident after unseating Nico De Boinville at Cheltenham back in November. He laboured to a distant finish when carrying top weight on his last outing, but on his day he is a wonderfully fluent jumper and won well around Sandown last season.

Vyta Du Roc (10/1 bet365)looks like one of the best-handicapped horses of the race and Nicky Henderson will be hoping his eight-year-old can build on recent good performances in the 2016 Scottish National and this year’s Hennessy. However, PRESENT MAN (12/1 BetVictor) is a Graded winner and comes to the Sandown finale Festival in excellent form and he could be the one to go for.

Paul Nicholls will be hoping Present Man can use the spring exploits of stablemate, San Benedetto as a source of inspiration, as he looks to follow up a solid win a few weeks ago with a massive victory today. He’s a very game and dangerous front-runner, he beat a couple of very handy competitors in Potters Legend and O O Seven to the Grade 2 December Novices’ Chase crown back in the winter. 

The Druids Nephew and Vyta Du Roc make plenty of appeal at their current odds and look well placed to challenge for this title, but if Present Man jumps well and can see out this extended trip, Paul Nicholls’ charge could be very hard to beat.

29/4/2017 3:30pm Sandown Gold Cup selection – PRESENT MAN each-way (12/1 BetVictor)

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2017 Sandown Gold Cup tips - Nicholls' Man to give Paul a Present at Sandown

Our expert takes a look through the ante-post betting for the Sandown Gold Cup Handicap and picks out an interesting contender who could bring the curtain down on the 2016/17 National Hunt season in fitting fashion.

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