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Horse Power: Gerri Colombe can win the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown

Liverpool Echo logo Liverpool Echo 03/02/2023 Chris Wright

Unbeaten Irish raider GERRI COLOMBE can score again in the Virgin Bet Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase (GBB Race) (2.20pm) at Sandown Park on Saturday afternoon.

Gordon Elliott’s seven-year-old can continue on the road to next month’s Cheltenham Festival and bring up a hat-trick of chase victories in the Grade One feature at the Esher track.

The gelded son of Saddler Maker won both his bumper start, then last season claimed a similar double over hurdles at Down Royal and Thurles. Gerri Colombe continued his winning run with a smooth transition to the bigger obstacles with a two-and-three-quarter-length victory over Bronn in a Beginners Chase at Fairyhouse in November. Willie Mullins’ runner-up has since franked the form with his own victory at Fairyhouse last weekend.

Gerri Colombe has already made the step up to Grade One level, winning again in the Guinness Faugheen Novice Chase at Limerick over Christmas and looks an exciting young chaser and is among the favourites – at around 8-1 – for the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase at Cheltenham.

He will be stepping up to an extended three miles at Prestbury Park, but sticks to two-and-a-half – the same trip as when he won at Limerick – for the moment.

While Irish top trainers Elliott and Mullins invariably claim many of the prizes at Cheltenham and also at the Randox Grand National meeting at Aintree Racecourse, they don’t always send their novices over to Britain beforehand. So with Elliott letting Gerri Colombe head to Sandown, it surely means he really fancies his chances of landing a third chasing success en route to the big Festivals. He can get the better of chiefly Paul Nicholls’ Monmiral to score again.

Nicholls may have a few winners at Sandown anyway with course specialist DOLOS set for another victory in the Virgin Bet Dolos Handicap Chase (GBB Race) (1.45pm). The 10-year-old has run in this race which is now named in his honour five times, winning three –including last season – and finishing second on the two other occasions. He clearly relishes this course and race and is only 3lbs higher in the handicap than last year’s win but below the mark off which he has won this in the past.

Dolos was second at Exeter and then third at Kempton over Christmas but back at his beloved Sandown, he can return to winning ways and take the race for a fourth time.

Ditcheat handler Nicholls may also score with JET OF MAGIC in the Virgin Bet Heroes Handicap Hurdle (Premier Handicap) (Pertemps Hurdle Series Qualifier) (GBB Race) (2.55pm). The seven-year-old won at Hereford and has been runner-up on his two other starts this season at Taunton and Cheltenham. He remains in good form and can return to winning ways.

WRAPPEDUPINMAY may provide a treble for Nicholls and jockey Harry Cobden on the day at Sandown in the finale, the Virgin Bet Open National Hunt Flat Race (Category 1 Elimination) (GBB Race) (4.03pm).

Others who may win at Sandown are the Peter Bowen-trained EQUUS DANCER in the Virgin Bet Masters Handicap Chase (GBB Race) (3.30pm); Olly Murphy’s unbeaten CHASING FIRE in the Virgin Bet Novices’ Hurdle (Novices’ Championship Hurdle Series Qualifier) (GBB Race) (12.35pm); and HEAVEN SMART, from the Gary Moore stable, in the Virgin Bet Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race) (1.10pm).

At Wetherby BALLYGRIFINCOTTAGE can make it two wins from two starts over fences in the Grade Two William Hill Towton Novices’ Chase (GBB Race) (2.45pm). The seven-year-old was an impressive winner of a Novices’ Chase at Haydock Park in November and looks like he can take the step up to Grade Two company in his stride to score again.

The still in-form Skelton stable may also have another winner with OUR JET in the William Hill Epic Value Handicap Chase (GBB Race) (1.30pm).

Pam Sly’s course and distance winner HAAFAPIECE may also triumph again in the William Hill Pick Your Places Handicap Hurdle (3.20pm); while others who may win at Wetherby are Alan King’s PASS THE LOVE ON in the Wilmot-Smith Memorial Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Herring Queen Series Qualifier) (GBB Race) (2.10pm); the Stuart Crawford-trained LARGY SHARK in the William Hill Best Odds Guaranteed Novices’ Hurdle (GBB Race) (1pm); and LATE ROMANTIC, from the Cheshire stable of Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero, in the Open Hunters’ Chase (3.55pm).

At Musselburgh Sandy Thomson’s FLOWER OF SCOTLAND can land a ‘home’ win in the bet365 Edinburgh National Handicap Chase (GBB Race) (2.03pm).

Others who may score up in Scotland are the Nicholls-trained HALO DES OBEAUX in the the bet365 Frodon Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (GBB Race) (1.28pm); stable-mate OUTLAW PETER in the bet365 Scottish Stayers’ Novices’ Hurdle (GBB Race) (2.35pm); Donald McCain’s NAYATI in the bet365 Scottish County Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race) (3.16pm); and DIDERO VALLIS, from the Venetia Williams stable, in the bet365 Auld Yin Conditional Jockeys’ Veterans’ Handicap Chase (4.20pm).

In Ireland it’s the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown on Saturday and Sunday and Gold Cup favourite, Willie Mullins’ GALOPIN DES CHAMPS, can show his Cheltenham credentials with victory in the Grade One Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup (3.05pm).

Stable-mates APPRECIATE IT and LOSSIEMOUTH can bring up a Grade One for Mullins in the Goffs Irish Arkle Novice Chase (2.30pm) and the Donohue Marquees Spring Juvenile Hurdle (1.55pm) respectively.

Wright Ones


12.25pm Chasing Fire

1.10pm Heaven Smart

1.45pm Dolos

2.20pm Gerri Colombe

2.55pm Jet Of Magic (NAP)

3.30pm Equus Dancer

4.03pm Wrappedupinmay


1pm Largy Shark

1.30pm Our Jet

2.10pm Pass The Love On

2.45pm Ballygrifincottage

3.20pm Haafapiece

3.55pm Late Romantic

4.30pm Paddy O’mahler


1.28pm Halo Des Obeaux

2.03pm Flower Of Scotland

2.25pm Outlaw Peter

3.16pm Nayati

3.48pm Scots Poet

4.20pm Didero Vallis


12.10pm King’s Gem

12.40pm Capricorn Prince

1.16pm Sax Appeal

1.51pm Bezzas Lad

2.26pm Summerghand

3.01pm Manaafith

3.35pm One Step Beyond


5.30pm Six Strings

6pm Spring Promise

6.30pm All Dunn

7pm Kingdom Come

7.30pm Girlswannahavefun

8pm Arab Cinder

8.30pm Yagan


1.55pm Lossiemouth

2.30pm Appreciate It

3.05pm Galopin Des Champs

SUNDAY'S NAP: Creative Control (Musselburgh 3.25pm)


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