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Balgarry the answer to big handicap hurdle at Sandown

The unexposed Balgarry has been given a chance by the assessor and looks the answer to the 2m handicap hurdle at Sandown today (3.00).

The gelding landed a juvenile hurdle in France back in 2010 before joining trainer David Pipe and bolting up on handicap debut in the mud at Newbury over 2m 1f off a mark of 129 after 557 days on the sidelines.

The seven-year-old then ran very well to finish seventh of 28 in the Coral Cup at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival over 2m 5f, leading until being headed approaching the last.

Balgarry then endured another lengthy spell on the sidelines before reappearing in the ultra-competitive Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot last month.

The son of Ballingarry ran far to fresh on his first start for 1011 days, leading until two from home before weakening to finish 11th of 18 to Bayan.

Although eventually beaten 18 1/2 lengths, jockey Tom Scudamore looked after Balgarry once it was clear he would not be winning and it wasn’t a bad run in what was a very tough race to make such a belated comeback.

The handicapper has since been quick to drop Balgarry a couple of pounds to 132, and that makes he is now just 3lb higher than when romping to victory at Newbury.

It gives Balgarry major claims at the weights, and after just four runs he remains unexposed and open to plenty more improvement.

There are a host of potential dangers, and the biggest may well prove to be Amore Alato.

The Nick Williams trained six-year-old was a useful novice hurdler last season when winning twice, and ran a stormer on seasonal reappearance when runner-up to Snake Eyes in a Listed handicap hurdle over course and distance.

Amore Alato looked the likely winner when jumping the last in front but got collared late on to go down by 1/2 a length to what was a very well handicapped winner.

A 3lb rise for that effort looks more than fair, and with the stable in good form and AP McCoy in the saddle a big run looks assured.