ITV are broadcasting six races live on Saturday, including the jumps season finale at Sandown. That meeting features the Grade 1 Celebration Chase and that race, as well as all five others, is previewed below.
WHIZZ KID (1.50 Sandown)
This will be tricky for Doctor Parnassus, who has looked a very useful juvenile hurdler this term, finishing seventh in the Triumph Hurdle. He even beat older horses at Taunton on his second start.
A four-year-old won this last year too, but there are a pair of novices here who are surely capable beyond their current marks. Boombawn piques interest once again after back-to-back wins following a promising third to Jonbon earlier in the season.
However, WHIZZ KID pulled hard and was given an unconventional ride by Cillin Leonard at Aintree last time. His rider initially took him into a clear lead before reeling him back in behind horses. Despite racing enthusiastically, he was still beaten fewer than three lengths in fourth.
On his previous two efforts, he likely had plenty more in hand and is just 1lb higher here. Sa Twiston-Davies takes the ride on this occasion and that can also make a positive difference.
MEHMENTO (2.05 Haydock)
For all that Alrehb brings the best form to the table, this will be his first run on turf and there cannot be any certainty he will find this as easy.
Gioia Cieca is another interesting one having blown away the cobwebs at Musselburgh last week, though it was alarming just how flat that run was. Instead, one who appeals having fallen down the ratings is MEHMENTO for Archie Watson.
This will be his first handicap start away from the all-weather, which he was campaigned on between November and March. Despite a victory at Southwell, he is 8lb lower than his last rating on turf, when last of six in a Goodwood Group 3.
Ultimately, he is a Listed scorer, who has been back to form on his last two starts. With that spark recaptured, a mark of 98 is one off which he can win.
MISTER FISHER (2.25 Sandown)
This Grade 2 has been won in the last two years by Paul Nicholls, who usually treats himself to a few winners across this season-ending card.
Saint Calvados is a talented horse, but not one who regularly finds the winners’ enclosure. On paper, MISTER FISHER’s task in giving him 6lb is a tough one, but one he might be up to.
Nicky Henderson’s charge was runner-up in this last year, but had cruised through to lead. His only problem was coming up against Frodon, who mercilessly clawed his way to back to victory at Mister Fisher’s expense.
However, the eight-year-old has already won the Grade 2 Silviniaco Conti Chase at this track this season and there is no rival in Frodon’s class this season. There is no doubt he has been disappointing at Ascot and Aintree the last twice, but he can be expected to recover here.
ARATUS (2.45 Leicester)
This is an intriguing Listed race. All four are separated by just 6lb, but it is worth chancing the lowest-rated ARATUS to come good despite him having the longest absence.
Quite simply, he comes into this on the upgrade, having won the last four of his five career starts. Handicap successes over this trip came at Newbury and Goodwood, the latter off a mark of 98.
In context with his rivals, Edraak, while better on the all-weather recently, was fifth off a mark of 100 last time in a handicap, meaning there would be a marginal swing in Aratus’ favour. Indeed, but for having raced in Dubai, Path Of Thunder would be rated below 95 after a heavy defeat off that mark at Goodwood last July. It is sometimes difficult for horses coming back from Meydan to translate their form.
Happy Power has been the most consistent of these at around this grade, but has not won since November 2020. With that trio all doubted in some respect, Aratus is given the nod.
NUBE NEGRA (3.00 Sandown)
Greaneteen’s record over course and distance is outstanding, with two wins and a runner-up in three Grade 1 starts.
One of those victories came in this race a year ago, in which he beat none other than Altior by 3¼ lengths. The other was earlier this season, where he took advantage of below par efforts from Chacun Pour Soi and NUBE NEGRA in the Tingle Creek.
The latter is excused that effort though, with it having come just 20 days after he had won at Cheltenham. Dan Skelton’s runner is clearly a much better horse fresh, with all of his best efforts over fences coming after significant layoffs and his two weaker performances coming within six weeks of a previous race.
Since that below par Tingle Creek run, he has had 140 days to freshen up after missing Cheltenham and Aintree. He will be absolutely spot on for this and it is a surprise that he is not an outright favourite.
WIN MY WINGS (3.32 Sandown)
WIN MY WINGS’s success in the Scottish Grand National was very much a seeing is believing performance.
Christian Williams’ mare absolutely bolted in under Rob James’ 7lb claim. She scored by seven lengths from reopposing stablemate Kitty’s Light, but the dominance of her victory was far greater than that margin.
The old racing cliche that she could have gone round again really looked genuine, such was the canter in which she won. The handicapper watched with prying eyes and has put her up a stone to a mark of 154, but she would likely have won anyway at Ayr.
Should she take to Sandown and be feeling no ill effects, this race could be there for the taking too. She probably had an easier race in the Scottish National than any of her rivals and James is back aboard once again.