Saturday’s Lucky 15 – Our UK Racing Best Bets on January 8

Wincanton is showcased on ITV this Saturday along with four races at Sandown.Wincanton is showcased on ITV this Saturday along with four races at Sandown.

Horse Racing Tips on Saturday, January 8

Sandown and Wincanton take centre stage this weekend. Indeed our editor’s Lucky 15 comprises four runners from those two meetings at a combined 24,931/1! This is one not to miss out on.


Chef D’Equipe (1:15 Sandown)

David Maxwell is often harshly regarded as a novelty in jumps races, but the stats speak for themselves: if you’d backed every Maxwell-ridden runner in the last five years, you’d have made a 10 point profit.

Some of that may owe to his horses performing particularly well in hunter chases, but they have shown up well in handicap company, none more so than Dolphin Square, who won under Maxwell at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.

That horse was 28/1 and CHEF D’EQUIPE is currently the rank outsider of eight here. However, that number is perfect for an each-way play and Philp Hobbs’ 10-year-old should have come on for his comeback after a just one run in 617 days and wind surgery.

The “second start since wind surgery” is often a profitable angle and he is absolutely thrown in off his old form now 5lb lower than his Newbury run in November. He did not disgrace himself that day either and Maxwell’s 3lb claim entitle the course and distance winner to have a squeak.


Glajou (2:05 Wincanton)

It’s rare to find, but there might be a Paul Nicholls runner overlooked in the market at Wincanton.

Bryony Frost has operated at a very healthy strike rate so far this season and takes the ride on GLAJOU. Imported from France in early 2020, his only win over fences came with a little cut in the ground in December, despite having mostly raced on sounder surfaces.

That suggests there should be little problem with the ground at Wincanton even if it cuts up a little more and that victory also came off 1lb higher in the handicap. His recent form over fences has been of a lower standard, but he was dropped 4lb for a reasonable effort when upped in trip at Taunton most recently.

This race looks competitive, but there is no stand out favourite and a mark of 123 can still be improved upon.


Blairgowrie (2:40 Wincanton)

The two handicap debutants appeal most for potential. Crossing The Bar may have been more leniently treated than the Nicky Henderson trained BLAIRGOWRIE, but the suspicion is that the latter has more to come.

Philip Hobbs’ horse has been closer to winning, but Blairgowrie was third in a race won by Get A Tonic, who contested Listed honours next time out. He was not given a hard time by Nico De Boinville, quite possibly with handicaps in mind.

He would probably have won a novice or maiden hurdle eventually and it did not look to be the trip over which he struggled last time. A handicap mark of 112 for any horse from the Henderson yard with only a couple of runs under their belt. 

Indeed, you would be up over 16 points for backing all of Henderson’s handicap hurdlers this season, with 20% of them returning victorious. This could be ominous for his rivals.


Navajo Pass (3:35 Sandown)

This 0-145 handicap only just allows for NAVAJO PASS’ participation, as he has only just slipped back to a mark of 145 after his comeback run.

However he has never won after a substantial break between races and will be returning to a softer surface, which should suit Donald McCain’s charge far better. This is a Grade 2 winning hurdler we are talking about and that makes his mark seem very appealing.

That is despite him having 13lb and more to concede to all of his rivals, but there is a chance, on his second start since wind surgery, that he will simply be a class above even in the face of that weight concession.

Theo Gillard takes off an extra 5lb with his claim and in the current state of affairs, he could yet prove one of Britain’s best two-mile hurdlers as he is still only six-years-old.