Friday race of the day – Runner-by-runner preview of Winter Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown

Jon Vine takes a look through the runners set to contest the Grade Two Winter Novices’ Hurdle and provides readers with his tips in Friday’s race of the day at Sandown on Friday 6th December.

I’ve enjoyed some success with my Race Of The Day tips this week, tipping a 4/1 winner on Wednesday and a 20/1 runner-up at Wincanton yesterday. As part of our Daily Tips service, I’ve taken a look at each of the runners in Friday’s big race at Sandown and sides with a talented runner who looks overpriced.

Friday’s Race Of The Day at Sandown

Emmas Joy

Won first start in bumper last term. Was then beaten half-a-length in a Listed bumper for mares and finished eighth in Graded Mares’ Bumper at Aintree. Beaten behind a decent sort on novice hurdle debut, before scoring simple 13 lengths success second time out. This looks a very steep step up in quality though and others are preferred.

Enrilo

Won twice in bumpers last term, while also finishing fourth in a Listed race at Ascot. Won easily on first start over hurdles, but was then beaten 34-lengths behind House Island at Ludlow. Paul Nicholls hasn’t won this race since 2005 and I doubt he’ll be celebrating on Friday.

Happygolucky

Clocked a decent RPR of 87 when finishing second on sole point-to-point start. Made an excellent impression on novice hurdle debut at Stratford, bolting up to beat an Evens-favourite and a subsequent winner by eleven lengths.

Travelled to Cheltenham last month and ran a lovely race in the Grade Two Ballymore Trial, staying on to finish four lengths behind Thyme Hill in third. Looks a smart prospect, I just worry the track and trip might be a little sharp.

Happygolucky (left) stays on for third behind Thyme Hill at Cheltenham.

House Island

On the back of a Listed bumper success, Paul Webber sent him to Punchestown, where he finished ninth in the Grade One bumper. Secured victory at Ludlow on his second start over hurdles, beating Enrillo in the process. Will need to step up on that performance significantly though and there are several better options.

Ofalltheginjoints

Runs in the same colours as stablemate Reserve Tank, and looks a promising sort. Edged out two rivals who are now rated 130 on his novice hurdle debut and was far from disgraced second time out, losing to Boss Man Fred by a short-head when giving the winner seven pounds. Should be competitive here again.

Overthetop

Unbeaten in three career starts, winning a point-to-point, a bumper and a novices hurdle. Carried odds of 4/7 into first start over obstacles, but put the race to bed in impressive fashion, running out a 17-length victor. Form of that race doesn’t look great, but it’s clear Olly Murphy has a very smart young gelding on his hands.

Up The Straight

Ran up to a modest level in four starts between the flags, finishing second twice and fourth twice. Entered first start under rules as a 33/1 shot, but bolted up under James Davies, defeating 1/3 favourite Cat Tiger with apparent ease. Loved the heavy ground that day and he should handle the track. Needs to prove that win wasn’t a fluke though.

Verdict

Emmas Joy is far too high up in the betting, and I wouldn’t give either Enrillo or House Island a second look. Happygolucky is a horse on the upgrade and could even be good enough to run in the Albert Bartlett come the spring. Over two-and-a-half miles around a stiff track like Sandown though, he could be caught-out for pace.

Up The Straight would appeal at an each-way price if three places were available, but with just two his attraction lessens. Overthetop could extended his unbeaten record with a maiden Graded triumph, but the one I want to side with on Friday is OFALLTHEGINJOINTS (6/1 William Hill).

Colin Tizzard’s charge was hampered by Flic Ou Voyou when jumping the second last on debut, but still got up to win, clocking a fast time on softish ground in the process. Ofalltheginjoint then went down at Kempton by just a short head to Boss Man Fred – who’s won easily again since – when carrying a winners’ penalty, so you can mark that run up significantly too. Robbie Power is in England to take the ride, and there’s no better jockey to guide a young horse into battle in a race like this. He looks overpriced sitting on 6/1.

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