One trainer, one jockey, one horse and one race to watch on Saturday
Only one horse from Dan Skelton's powerhouse stable will head to the races on Saturday but that sole runner is a top-quality one as Allmankind (1.50) contests the Planteur At Chapel Stud Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown.
Skelton seeks a first Grade 1 success over fences and Allmankind, a top-level juvenile hurdle winner last season, has strong claims on the back of an imperious chase debut victory at Warwick.
He looked a natural that day and could be a sight to savour over the Railway fences at this track.
It is a big day for Kielan Woods, who rides the favourite in the Becher Chase as he goes in search of a first winner over the National fences.
Woods teams up with Ben Pauling in the Becher Chase aboard Le Breuil (1.30), on whom he finished fourth at Kelso on the eight-year-old's reappearance in October. Le Breuil finished seventh in this race last year.
Woods also combines with Alex Hales in the Listed fillies' juvenile hurdle with the doughty Hiconic (2.05), a four-time winner and dual runner-up from six starts over hurdles.
It is a first step back on the Gold Cup trail for Santini (2.40) on Saturday as he returns in a five-runner edition of the William Hill Many Clouds Chase at Aintree.
Santini finished a neck second to Al Boum Photo in the Cheltenham showpiece last season and Nicky Henderson will be hoping for a smooth return for the eight-year-old.
Jeremiah McGrath rides Santini for the first time with Nico de Boinville in action at Sandown and their rivals include the similarly returning Native River, a former Gold Cup winner, and another Gold Cup hope in Frodon, who has a fitness edge after scoring at Cheltenham in October.
Sadly Altior (2.25) was ruled out of the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase on Friday night.
His absence leaves the race at the mercy of Paul Nicholls, who has sent out the winner a record ten times. He is represented by Champion Chase hero Politologue and Haldon Gold Cup hero Greaneteen, with progressive six-year-old Rouge Vif the main opposition.
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