The Betfred Mobile Heroes Handicap Hurdle is a typically competitive puzzle to solve, but we have found a big-price betting tip that should have every chance of delivering us a payday (3.00pm, Saturday, Sandown on CH4).
The favourite Polamco (10/3) is a progressive type, who recorded his best effort when rallying gamely to beat Morito Du Berlais by a neck in a similar race at Newbury last month. That form entitles him, once again, to beat Saffron Wells (6/1), who finished 2¾ lengths behind him at Newbury and is just 2lb better off. In fact, Polamco has been raised just 4lb for that Newbury success, which seems more than fair, but he was all out in the finish and has yet to win on truly soft going. On balance, he’s probably short enough at the odds on offer.
For his part, Saffron Wells again ran well, off his 1lb higher handicap mark of 135, when third, beaten 17 lengths, by Tea For Two in the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton three weeks ago. However, like Polamco, it may well be that the handicapper has him just about where he wants him and he, too, is passed over for win purposes.
Junction Fourteen (7/1) remains 16lb higher in the weights than when last winning and, although he has run creditably in defeat on his last two starts, he hardly leaps off the page as a winner in waiting. A similar comment applies to Imperial Leader (8/1), who has yet to win a handicap and returns after an absence of 267 days. He has slipped down the weights, but probably needs the handicapper to relent still further.
Mijhaar (12/1) was a Listed winner on the Flat for Roger Varian, but has struggled to hit the same heights over obstacles and, although there’s nothing inherently wrong with his recent placed efforts at Aintree and Ayr, he’s up another 3lb and may struggle to get competitive at this level.
Admirable Invicta Lake (12/1) comes from the good yard of Suzy Smith, who quietly does so well with her small string. However this gelding has been beaten off his current mark and would have to find a bit more improvement to land this.
The dreaded ‘bounce’ factor is always a danger with horses returning from long absences, but El Dancer (16/1) ran a race full of promise on his first appearance for nearly two years at Ludlow earlier this month and, granted normal progression, may be capable of taking a hand in the finish here. His second place on that occasion came over 3m, but 2m5f on soft, or possibly heavy, going should suit him admirably on a testing track.
A 2lb rise in the weights puts him on a handicap mark of 130 and, while he’s unlikely to retain the sort of ability that saw him rated 145 in his prime, he could still be good enough. Trainer Lucy Wadham (pictured above) is 3-15 (20%) with her hurdlers at Sandown over the last five seasons, which adds a little extra weight to his cause.
In a race where there are question marks against all of the principals, a ‘surprise’ result wouldn’t be all that surprising and El Dancer could be the one to provide it.