Sandown Jump Finale Betting Tips

There is an excellent card to look forward to at Sandown in late April as the Esher track stages the last major meeting of the National Hunt season. Rather than peter out and let us turn our attention fully to the flat, the season ends on a real high, with some quality races over this weekend.

There are seven contests on offer in total, but the one topping the list for most punters will often be the latest renewal of the Bet365 Gold Cup. Won by a number of true legends over the years, including all-time greats Arkle and Desert Orchid, this 3m5f event provides a stern examination of staying and jumping ability.

Please Note:Tips for the 2020 Sandown Jumps Finale Day will be posted closer to the date.

 

About Sandown's Jumps Finale

Racecourses have standout fixtures throughout the year that entice racegoers to attend in their droves. These range from the obvious examples such as the Festival at Cheltenham and the Grand National at Aintree through to the lesser known ones, like the All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield Park. The important thing is to have something that can bring in the punters, with Sandown Racecourse offering it in the form of the final race day of the jump racing season.

The day is almost as important for what takes place off the racecourse as what happens on it, thanks in no small part to the various champions from throughout the season being presented with their trophies and seeing their accomplishments celebrated. That’s not to belittle what happens on the track, however, with the day being the richest of the jumps season for Sandown Park. It has been taking place since the turn of the millennium, meaning that it’s well into the swing of things by now.

Sandown Park Racecourse

A quick bit of information about Sandown Park Racecourse might be useful at this point, given that it’s not one of the better-known venues to the more casual punter. Located in Esher in the county of Surrey, the course is one of the closest to central London.

As with many such courses that are based close to the capital, it was used by the War Department during the Second World War. The first meeting at the venue has taken place in 1875 and it cost a minimum of half a crown for attendees. That lasted for three days and one of the races was the National Hunt Chase, which takes place during the Cheltenham Festival nowadays.

Another race that was run during the first meeting was the Grand International Steeple Chase, which was more expensive in terms of prize money than any other race of the year, including the Grand National at Aintree. It was one of many firsts for the course, including the fact that in 1875 it became the first racecourse in England to boast a members’ enclosure. The course hosts races throughout the year, with the Jumps Finale Day being just one of the many meetings at the Surrey venue.

Sandown Jumps Finale Race List

Where else to start but with the races themselves? The doors to the course usually open at eleven in the morning and the first race tends to get underway at about 1.50pm, but we don’t put the timings on these lists as they’re always subject to change at late notice so there’s not much point.

Another thing that can change with a degree of regularity is both the order of the races and the actual races themselves, so take everything here with a pinch of salt. This is the race card as it was for the 2019 running:

RacePrize MoneyAgesObstacles
Jumps Finale Day
Novices' Handicap Hurdle £100,000 4 Years Old + 8 hurdles
Oaksey Chase £55,000 5 Years Old + 21 fences
Celebration Chase £150,000 5 Years Old + 13 fences
bet365 Gold Cup £150,000 5 Years Old + 24 fences
bet365 Select Hurdle £55,000 4 Years Old + 11 hurdles
Josh Gifford Novices H'cap Chase £35,000 5 Years Old + 17 fences
bet365 Handicap Hurdle £35,000 4 Years Old + 9 hurdles

The Key Races in Detail

As with any event in horse racing, some of the races are more interesting and valuable than others. That’s not to say that those that don’t have much to be said about them aren’t worth your while, but they just don’t offer the same prestige as the better-known races. Sometimes that’s because they’re still relatively young in racing terms, meaning that they’ll likely boast more information in the years to come.

Here’s a quick look at those races that do have something more about them than the average, giving you a little bit more insight into the important information of the race.

The bet365 Gold Cup Handicap Steeple Chase

Whilst there are a number of Gold Cups that are run around the country, with the most famous coming at Cheltenham during the Festival, the Bet365 Gold Cup is exclusive to Sandown Park and is a handicap chase that asks a fair amount of its participants if they’re hoping to finish as winners. Open to five-year-olds and older, it is run over about three miles and five furlongs and there are twenty-four fences to be jumped during that. As it’s a handicap there are no specific weight demands of its participants.

The race was first run in 1957 under the title of the Whitbread Gold Cup as it was sponsored by the brewers Whitbread. It was the company’s chairman, Colonel Bill Whitbread, who instigated the race’s running having himself enjoyed a decent career as an amateur jockey. He’d ridden in the Grand National twice, giving him a sense of how much joy could be taken from taking part in a reputable race.

The race’s claim to fame is that it was the first time in British sport that an event had taken on commercial sponsorship, also managing to be one of the longest running. Whitbread continued sponsoring the race until 2001, at which point At The Races took over the responsibility for a couple of years. The sponsorship continued under the title of the bookmaker Betfred, then in 2008 Bet365 took over and they’ve maintain their sponsorship ever since.

No horse has ever won the race more than twice, with Larbawn, Diamond Edge, Topsham Bay and Ad Hoc all picking up two wins. Despite riding none of them, Ron Barry is the race’s most successful jockey thanks to his three wins between 1971 and 1974. The famous champion trainer Fulke Walwyn trained seven winners between 1958 and 1984, including the aforementioned Diamond Edge.

The Celebration Chase

When the Cheltenham Festival was cancelled in March of 2001 because of the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease some of the races were run at Sandown Park in late April as a replacement event. They weren’t run under their own titles, however, being given new names for the meeting. One such example was the Queen Mother Champion Chase taking place with the moniker of the Celebration Chase.

It returned to Sandown Park in 2002 as the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Celebration Chase, dedicated to the memory of the Queen Mother who was a regular attendee at Sandown and had died earlier in the year. It began life as a Grade 1 offering but was downgraded to Class B, in spite of the fact that high quality chasers were still regularly entered into it. That perhaps explains why it was promoted to Grade 2 in 2005.

2005 was also the year that the race’s name was shortened down to just the Celebration Chase. In 2014 the British Horseracing Board decided to promote it back to Grade 1 level and it has been run as a Grade 1 offering ever since. As with the the bet365 Gold Cup, only one horse has won it more than twice with Altior picking up a hat-trick of wins between 2017 and 2019. Cenkos managed two wins in 2002 and 2004, Sire de Grugy picked up consecutive wins in 2013 and 2014.

Raced right-handed over a distance of one mile, seven furlongs and one hundred and nineteen yards, the race is open to horses aged five and over. It has a weight of eleven stone and seven pounds, with mares being given an allowance of seven pounds. There are thirteen fences that must be jumped during the race, which has seen horses trained by Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson win it more than any other trainer.

The Oaksey Chase

One of the youngest races to take place during Jumps Finale Day, the Oaksey Chase was inaugurated in 2014. It is named in honour of John Oaksey, who was the winning jockey of the Whitbread Gold Cup, as it was then, when it was run in 1958. A journalist and amateur jockey, he died in 2012.

Whilst the race’s name is unlikely to change any time soon, if and when it does it wouldn’t be a surprise for it to be named in honour of Menorah. The horse won the race’s first running as a nine-year-old in 2014, following that up with three more consecutive wins before finally being dethroned by Top Notch in 2018. All four wins were under the guidance of Richard Johnson and the training of Philip Hobbs.

Until the race is renamed after the gelding the winners will be awarded the Menorah Challenge Trophy, which was presented for the first time in 2018, the year after the horse’s owners announced the gelding’s retirement.

Run right-handed over around two miles and six and a half furlongs, it has seventeen fences to be jumped during its running and was prompted to Grade 2 in 2016.

Bet365 Select Hurdle

The day of the Bet365 Gold Cup and Celebration Chase used to feature both flat and jump racing, but when the Jockey Club decided to dedicate it to the end of the jump racing season the flat races were moved to a different meeting. These included the likes of the Gordon Richards Stakes and the Sandown Mile. When they were moved on other races were needed to replace them, with the Bet365 Select Hurdle joining the Oaksey Chase as having that honour.

That happened in 2014, which explains why the two races are relative newcomers to the world of jump racing. It was a Listed race when it was first run, being promoted to Grade 2 in 2017. No horse has won it more than once at the time of writing, though Sam Twiston-Davies has won it twice as a jockey. Both wins came on horses trained by Paul Nicholls, though Nicky Henderson won the other three runnings of it to date to claim the ‘most successful trainer’ crown.

run over a distance of around two miles and five and a half furlongs, the race is open to horses aged four and over. There are eleven hurdles that the competitors will need to negotiate before the race is run.

Josh Gifford Novices' Handicap Steeple Chase

Josh Gifford was a four-time champion jockey, having six hundred and forty two wins under his belt before he retired. He was also a trainer until his retirement at the age of sixty in 2002. His son Nick took over as trainer, whilst his daughter Kristina is an Olympic medal winning rider under her married name of Kristina Cook in the eventing discipline.

He suffered a heart attack at his training yard in 2012, passing away as a result. Sandown Park decided to name a race in his honour when those new jump races were created in 2014, with the Josh Gifford Novices' Handicap Steeple Chase getting its first running that year and replacing a Juvenile Hurdle race that had also been named after him.

The race is run over around two miles and four and a half furlongs and horses, which can be five years of age or older, need to jump seventeen fences if they hope to end the race as the winner.