Sandown preview (15.35): Ebony Express can steam to success
David Metcalf | January 2, 2016
Ebony Express has slipped to a handy mark and looks decent value to take advantage land the spoils in the 2m handicap hurdle at Sandown (15.35).
The Dr Richard Newland trained gelding enjoyed a terrific first season over hurdles when winning three times, and in the last of those successes showed a tremendous attitude to beat Rayvin Black by 3/4 of a length in the 23-runner ultra-competitive Imperial Cup over course and distance off a mark of 131.
Prior to that Ebony Express was on the heels of the leaders and staying on well when badly hampered and unseating his rider in the Betfair hurdle at Newbury off 134 when looking likely to play a hand in the finish.
Those races represent strong form in the context of this contest, and Ebony Express does not look harshly treated off a mark of 135 given that he is a seven-year-old who has only had eight starts over the obstacles and remains open to further progression.
Ebony Express should also now be spot on to do himself justice following two spins when shaping as if needing the outings, and with underfoot conditions fine everything looks in place for a big run.
See The Rock the best of the rest
There are plenty of dangers in a wide open contest, and See The Rock could prove the biggest.
The gelding had some useful form on the flat in Germany when winning four times, and shaped with plenty of promise on debut over hurdles for trainer Jonjo O’Neill when sixth at Plumpton.
See The Rock raced far too keenly and made mistakes before weakening late on, and duly built on that experience to open his hurdling account at Market Rasen.
The five-year-old settled far better, and after making good headway from off the pace two from home showed a good attitude on the run-in to come from four lengths down and beat Final Nudge by a short-head.
It was a most taking performance, and the runner-up has come out and won since in good style to give the form a solid look.
Although See The Rock failed to shine last time out at Leicester when a well-beaten fourth, the son of Shirocco looks potentially well-treated off an opening handicap mark of 124 judged on his defeat of Final Nudge and remains unexposed.
Coral’s top tip: Ebony Express looks decent value to get back to winning ways now returned to the scene of his greatest triumph. See The Rock is feared most.