Saturday's bet365-sponsored card at Sandown brings down the curtain on the British National Hunt season and Keith Melrose from the Racing Post provides his best bets on the card.
Enrilo @ 8/1
1pt each-way (six places)
Hewick @ 11/8
Mumbo Jumbo @ 12/1
This horse passed the post first in the same race two years ago, only to lose it in the stewards' room on account of him hanging across the placed horses. While he did cause enough interference to warrant demotion, it was also obvious to any race-reader that he was the best horse on the day.
ENRILO ran off a mark of 143 that day. He is down to 137 now and, while he inevitably has had his struggles since, there have been signs of life and there is every chance that Nicholls has trained him with this day in mind.
Enrilo fell a long way out in the Badger Beer in November, but had been going well to that point. He also showed a bit of spark in the former Racing Post Chase at Kempton last time, jumping the third-last fences just a couple of lengths away before he faded.
It was generous of the handicapper to lower his mark another 5lb after that run as it was far from abject, especially if you assume this race was the real target.
While Enrilo is not an obvious each-way type, with bet365 offering six places on this 18-runner race it is a logical play to include a place bet. He could run to a similar level to Kempton and easily make it into the six.
Last year's bet365 Gold Cup winner HEWICK runs in the Oaksey Chase on the same card. He had the option of defending his title, but this race looks easier to win than the handicap would have been off a mark of 168.
Furthermore, Hewick is actually receiving weight from some of his main rivals. He does not carry a full penalty, because he has not won a Grade 1 or Grade 2 race over fences.
What he has won is the bet365 Gold Cup and Galway Plate (over this 2m6f trip), while he was heading for success in the Kerry National in September when unseating at the last and might just have held onto the frame in the Cheltenham Gold Cup before falling two out.
He should have too much for the nearly horses that oppose him, should he stay on his feet this time.
The final British steeplechase of the season takes place at 3.25 and it is a novices' handicap chase. A few of these will still be interesting next season. In all honesty I am surprised that MUMBO JUMBO has not yet won over fences.
He started out well, finishing second in a historically strong race at Uttoxeter and then placing behind Solo here. His last run was a career-best at Taunton, where he might have won but for belting two out when locked in battle with winner Haldon Hill. Taunton does not give much time to recover from mistakes.
Sandown is a little more forgiving in the latter stages of races and, even though I think he might be a stayer next season, Mumbo Jumbo can use the stiff finish here to get a belated first win over fences at the last possible opportunity this season.