by Stable Lad

Welcome, all you punters out there, to 2012, as we embark on our first racing safari of the year on this Saturday, to Sandown and Wincanton, with the hope that I can put some winners your way, to make up for a few of the expenses you incurred over the holidays.

Of course, at this time of the year, we are at the mercy of the elements, so I will do my best to give you as wide a spread as possible, the intention being to get as many of the vital runners as we can.

On this Saturday, I will concentrate on four races, two at each meeting, which will give you the option of a Lucky Fifteen bet, or indeed, various other bets.

I will begin at Sandown, and the Novice Hurdle, at 2-35.

In this, I will look to those long-term racing rivals, Philip Hobbs and Paul Nicholls, who seem to have this particular race between them.

Nicholls hope, Prospect Wells, to be ridden by Ruby Walsh, looks the business, although the Hobb’s talented representative, Colour Squadron, will give him a decent run for his money.

Also at this meeting, in the HBLB Chase, Exmoor Ranger, who got off the mark last time can go in again, this time closely challenged by Carrickmines, who is in good form at present.

Over at Wincanton, The Batwick Chase will provide a good contest, and gives a good chance to Hold on Julio to register his fifth win in a row, with David Pipe’s Consigliere proving troublesome.

The other top race here is the Bathwick Hurdle, where No Loose Change can hit the money, but will expect very strong opposition from Cotillion, who has recently been running well for that excellent Welsh trainer, Ian Williams.

The Fab Four are Sandown: Prospect Wells-2-35. Exmoor Ranger-3-10.

Wincanton:- Hold on Julio-2-50. No Loose Change-3-25. Best of Luck!