Saturday stars: four up-and-comers worth getting excited about
With high-class action at Chepstow, Sandown and Wincanton on Saturday there is plenty for racing fans to get excited about this weekend. Here are four horses with the potential to thrill. . .
(1.35 Chepstow, first preference)
Failing to make a splash on the Flat need not be a barrier to success over hurdles, and Sussex Ranger, who cost only €10,000 as a two-year-old and obtained a Flat rating of just 76, looks well worth a shot at Grade 1 glory. The form of Sussex Ranger's Sandown success probably isn't up to much, with the runner-up well beaten since and the short-priced favourite clearly failing to fire. However, the style of the 14-length victory left a deep impression and this fluent-jumping, strong-staying type can continue to punch above his weight.
Wild West Wind
This is the big day for Tom George's nine-year-old, who has done little wrong in his career to date, winning three of his four chase starts and finishing in the first two in 70 per cent of his races overall. Last time he put up a career best when landing the Welsh National Trial, a race he might have won quite comfortably but for idling in front when clear, and racing off a penalty for that victory ensures he's 1lb well in. A big, raw type who likes Chepstow, he's made for a race of his nature.
Kalashnikov bids to give young trainer Amy Murphy her first Grade 1 success at the first attempt in the Tolworth Hurdle. This exciting five-year-old, who has proved versatile regarding the going, is unbeaten in three starts and easily beat Sandown winner Irish Prophecy on his most recent start at Doncaster last month. Murphy's father Paul owns this son of Kalanisi and it would be a real coup for an up-and-coming trainer to take on and beat the big guns.
The final race can sometimes not be worth queuing in the car park for, but Sandown’s finale does not fall into that bracket, and it contains one of the most interesting horses of the season in Our Merlin. This term’s equivalent of Tobefair, whose relentless rise up the handicap captured plenty of attention last season, Our Merlin won three races in the space of ten days last month by an aggregate 47 lengths and is now 37lb higher than when his sequence began. It will be intriguing to see how he fares against better opposition.
Look back on a sizzling year of racing in the new edition of the Racing Post Annual, which has 208 colour pages packed with the best stories and pictures of 2017. Order now at racingpost.com/shop or call 01933 304858