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Narrow the Field: The 14/1 shot who can prove a real hero on Saturday

If you don't have a dream - how you going to make a dream come true?

by Sean Goff | January 30, 2015

We’re about to put the January Blues in our rear-view mirror and kick into the final stretch for Cheltenham 2015.

With most of the star attractions on ice before the flag falls on March 10 expect the racing to have more plots than ‘Who Killed Lucy Beale’ over the next six weeks – but what won’t change is trying to pick a winner.

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We’ve gone through a couple of races at Sandown this weekend using the Venn Diagrams and sorted them out according to performance on the advertised going, distance and previous ability to get the job done.

As always – anything in yellow is all good. Anything outside is mostly good but needs to step up again. We’re thinking Tiger Woods here.

Scilly Isles Novice Chase Sandown 2.25pm

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Irish Saint ticks all the boxes. A 2m 5f winner at Ascot last time he’s won a Grade 2 hurdle and was third of four in the Henry VIII Novices Chase on Tingle Creek day to Vibrato Valtat.

That course experience could be the difference here where the fences come at you in quick succession down the back straight.

Philip Hobbs’ Champagne West kept good company over hurdles and was fourth to Very Wood in the Grade One Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle over 3m at Cheltenham and looks progressive over fences while Splash of Ginge and Grumeti may need to step up to the mark.

The dark horse looks to be Willie Mullins’ Gitane Du Berlais –  an 18 length winner of a beginners’ chase over Christmas at Limerick.

There are no real stamina doubts about any of the runners but who has the class to win at the highest level?

Selection:  Irish Saint @ 2/1

Heroes Handicap Hurdle Sandown 3pm 

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Now we’re talking. A 12-runner handicap on a Saturday and we’ve smashed the sweet spot with a double-digit fancy in Suzy Smith’s Invicta Lake.

While he fell on his last run at Cheltenham he’s been consistent and won off 116 at Plumpton over 3m. Stamina is not an issue and being near the foot of the handicap helps too.

Harry Fry’s Polamco has been moving through the gears and is 11lb higher for his two recent handicap wins. The trainer’s time with Paul Nicholls shows that when it comes to running up a sequence with one that’s ahead of the handicapper – he didn’t lick it off the ground

The ultra-consistent Saffron Wells deserves a big pot but could be in the handicapper’s grip now. There’s scope for this 22 furlong contest to bring out improvement in some of the others like El Dancer and Junction Fourteen. But – and we’ve been guilty of this before – we’re not looking a potential gift horse in the mouth this time.

Selection: Invicta Lake @ 14/1

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