Saturday 1st February: Sandown Park, 2:25pm – 2m 4f (2m 4f 10y) Betway Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1) (5yo+)
The Scilly Isles Novices Chase is open to horses aged five years and older, who are in their first full season of chasing. The race has been run since 1964 and until 1988 was run over 2 miles. It is not named after the lovely archipelago off the Cornish coast, but an area of Surrey close to the racecourse.
Recent renewals of the race have seen the favourite win eight times, with the second or third favourites winning on a further four occasions, so over the last 12 seasons looking at horses at the top of the market would appear to be a key factor when assessing the race.
The last twenty five renewals has seen horses aged between five and seven winning on 23 occasions. The last 10 renewals have seen nine of the 10 winners falling into the same age group.
A recent winning run is definitely worthy of note with 10 of the last 12 renewals won by horses who ran within 49 days of the race. Eight of the last 12 winners of the race also won on their previous start.
A previous run at Sandown is useful as half of the last 12 winners had run at least once at the course previously, of which four had previously won at the course. All of the last 12 winners had also run over the race distance of 2 miles before the race.
Winning experience over the race distance is also a key factor when looking at the race as t10 of the last 12 winners had won at least four times over the race trip. Four winners had also previously won at the course. Eight of the last 12 winners had also won over distances between 2 miles 3 furlongs and 2 miles 5 furlongs. Ten of the recent winners had also won at least once over fences.
An Official Rating of 145 of higher has been required to win the race in nine of the last 12 renewals.
Nicky Henderson has an excellent record in the event over the last 10 seasons, winning the race on five occasions.
Willie Mullins won the Scilly Isles Chase in 2015 and in Laurina he appears to have a decent chance of winning it again in 2020. The seven year old bay mare was pulled up after bursting a blood vessel on her last run on Boxing Day. A previous winner over hurdles at Sandown, she won easily on her first chase start winning a beginners chase at Gowran Park by 8 lengths in November. She was very smart over hurdles winning at Grade 1 and two Listed races.
Race conditions would appear to suit with two wins from three starts in the current going and four wins from four starts over the race distance. She runs off an Official Rating of 159 and also receives the mares allowance of 7lbs. Laurina also has entries at The Dublin Festival and at the time of writing the final declarations have not been published. A run in the UK on Saturday could be a tip in itself.
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