RACING TRENDS: Vinndication eyes Sandown success
The Grade 1 888 Sport Scilly Isles Novices Chase is the feature event on Saturday afternoon at Sandown Park.
Previous winners in the last 12 years include Medermit, For Non Stop and Bristol De Mai.
Trainer Nicky Henderson has trained five of the last 12 victors while Paul Nicholls has saddled Herecomesthetruth, Silverburn and New Little Bric to win the contest.
The last 12 winners of the contest finished in the first two in one of their last three starts and had run up to five times during the season, while all 12 were running within 75 days of their last start as well as finishing in the first three last time out.
Eleven of the last 12 winners were aged between five and seven, with the nine-year-old, Nicky Henderson-trained Oscar Whisky winning a three-runner contest in 2014 the only winner in the older age bracket.
Ten of the last 12 winners had at least two previous chase starts as well as winning a contest over the larger obstacles.
Six of the last 12 winners of the race ran in the JLT Novice chase at the Cheltenham festival, though only four of the six hit the frame.
Current favourite is the Kim Bailey-trained Vindication with the trainer looking to get his six-year-old back on the racecourse on Saturday.
This race was firmly pencilled in for the horse following his win in the Grade 2 Noel Novice chase at Ascot over Christmas on soft ground over a similar trip.
Bailey told the Press Association "I am very happy with Vinndication since his last run at Ascot, he has had plenty of time to recover from it and it has always been the plan from when he went past the post to run at Sandown.
"Comparing him at home to the racecourse is a tricky one as he is a very laid back individual. He wouldn't give you a huge amount of encouragement at home by what he does - he does it in his own way."
All of Vinndication's wins over jumps have been on soft ground, but Bailey is hoping to learn a little more about his preferred conditions at the weekend.
He said: "The ground is going to be the 100,000-dollar question and we will find that out this weekend. If they are putting frost covers down it will obviously make it softer or tackier.
"I have always said he is a horse that goes on soft ground but if you watch his action at home, he has got a very good ground action so I don't know.
"I think it's most probably a case of his previous opposition has been slowed down by soft ground where he has been able to handle it. So we will find out an awful lot on Saturday."
Bailey explained why he did not run Vinndication in one of the novice hurdles at Cheltenham last year after his victory in the Sidney Banks Memorial Novices' Hurdle in February.
"He was a very immature horse last year, and when he came back from his race at Huntingdon he had a touch of sore shins and you certainly can't go to Cheltenham with sore shins or even attempt to," he said.
"You have got to gallop downhill which puts more pressure on him and I just felt he wasn't ready for it."
If turning up for the race on Saturday, the Colin Tizzard-trained Lostintranslation is worthy of consideration following a third behind La Bague Au Roi at Newbury earlier in the season before a win at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.