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Classy Flat performer On To Victory bids to sign off in style for a second time

On To Victory leads them home in last year's November Handicap
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1.55 Sandown
bet365 Novices' Championship Final Handicap Hurdle | 2m | 4yo+ | ITV/RTV

It would be fitting if, on the final day of the jumps season at Sandown, the winner of the last big race of the preceding Flat season were to prove triumphant again.

On To Victory made the headlines when we said goodbye to the last turf Flat campaign by landing the November Handicap at Doncaster and he bids to do the same by ending the jumps season with another big-race victory. He is handicapped to do just that, too.

The Alan King-trained seven-year-old has taken time to find his feet over hurdles, but he has now won two of his last three starts and he achieved a Racing Post Rating of 136 for his latest victory at Warwick. He races off just 127 here, so definitely looks well in.

Furthermore, he has a turf Flat rating of 105 and, if you equate that using a conservative estimate of adding 35lb from Flat to jumps, he has the potential to reach a BHA mark of at least 140.

Celestial Force also had useful Flat form (BHA rated 84) but he is 21lb inferior to On To Victory in that code and gets only 2lb from him, racing off a 41lb higher jumps mark of 125.

Celestial Force was second at Newton Abbot on his first start after wind surgery last time but Paul Nicholls-trained runners usually improve for their first run after an operation. The trainer has a 26 per cent strike-rate with those having their first run after surgery, but that increases to 30 per cent when considering only those who were having their second run following a procedure.

Dan Skelton equips Gylo with a tongue-tie and the trainer is 25 per cent (43-170) with those wearing the aid for the first time, although a £1 bet on each has yielded a loss of £13.49.
Race analysis by Graeme Rodway

Royaume Uni Moore's 'best hope of day'

Royaume Uni was arguably one of the biggest gambles of the jumps season when he failed by half a length to peg back Herbiers at Ascot last month.

Many punters clearly felt an opening hurdles mark of 113 underestimated this well-bred dual Lingfield winner, who is rated 87 on the Flat, and the son of Galileo was backed at all rates down from 15-2 the night before to a starting price of 7-4.

For much of the journey it looked like the gamble was going to be landed, but the patiently ridden Royaume Uni could not get past the winner after holding every chance from the final flight.

The handicapper has put Royaume Uni up 3lb for that defeat, but he still looks interesting, and trainer Gary Moore, who has three other runners on the Sandown card, considers him to be “his best chance” of a winner.

“It was a good run the other day at Ascot,” Moore said. “And maybe he was a fraction unlucky. Carrying a low weight in a competitive race like this should give him every chance, and he’s probably my best hope of the day.”

What they say

Paul Nicholls, trainer of Flic Ou Voyou and Celestial Force
Flic Ou Voyou has had a good season, and will love the ground. We qualified him at Kempton, and this will be his last run over hurdles. Celestial Force has been kept busy this season. He had a wind op and then ran tidy at Newton Abbot. He’s got a leading chance.

Dan Skelton, trainer of Rockstar Ronnie and Gylo
This has been the plan for Rockstar Ronnie from Christmas onwards and I’m really happy with him. The ground will suit and I can’t see the track being an issue. Gylo is slightly different, he qualified for this late but is in good form and should love the ground. I’m very happy with both of them.

Alan King, trainer of On To Victory and Isolate
On To Victory learned a lot from running in the Betfair Hurdle, and then got plenty of confidence from winning at Warwick. He's rated 105 on the Flat whereas Isolate is 72, but there's only 1lb between them in this competitive handicap. They will both relish the ground and, having enjoyed a mid-season break, Isolate ought to improve on his comeback at Stratford.

Nicky Henderson, trainer of Lilly Pedlar
I'm slightly nervous about dropping back to two miles but she's in good form. 

Oliver Greenall, trainer of Herbiers
He’s in great form and has come out of his win at Ascot very well. He’ll enjoy the ground. It’s very competitive, but he’s tough and genuine and seems to be improving with each run. I think he has a great each-way shot at around 8-1.
Reporting by Richard Birch

Read more Saturday previews:

2.30 Sandown: fantastic Frodon aiming for fitting end to record-breaking season for Nicholls

3.05 Sandown: why it will still take a mighty effort to lower the once-great Altior's colours

3.40 Sandown: find out who's in 'serious order' for the bet365 Gold Cup

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Celestial Force also had useful Flat form but he is 21lb inferior to On To Victory on the level
E.W. Terms