There’s some smashing action to get stuck into at Sandown on Saturday, including the G1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase (more of that later), and I’ve got a 2.66/1 double for the occasion.

For the first leg of the double, I’m looking at the two-mile novices’ hurdle that opens the card at 12.35 – and it’s Olly Murphy’s CHASING FIRE that takes my fancy.

Unless Gary Moore’s newcomer Stenatee is well above average, I see this as a match between the selection and Iliko D’Olivate for Paul Nicholls.

I have respect for the latter, who was a fairly comfortable winner of a novice hurdle at Taunton in early January on stable debut, but his form is beyond modest.

To be fair, the same could be said for Chasing Fire, but given he’s won both his starts this term by a combined 32L I feel it would be wrong to look too much into what he’s been beating.

The fact the six-year-old, who was an expensive recruit from the PTP scene, was set to run in the G2 Supreme Trial at Haydock a couple weeks back shows how highly connections rate him, and so I imagine they would be bitterly disappointed if he can’t win what looks a fairly ordinary contest.

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Just under two hours later, at 2.20, it’s the Scilly Isles. Five go to post and the market is headed by a rare Irish raider in GERRI COLOMBE.

Gordon Elliott’s seven-year-old is right up there amongst the favourites for the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase ahead of the 2023 Cheltenham Festival – if he wants to win that race in March, he’ll have to be dealing with this field in decent style.

I expect him to do exactly that. The form of his Grade One success in the Faugheen Novice Chase at Limerick on Boxing Day is comfortably the best on offer here, with Nicky Henderson’s Balco Coastal boasting handicap form and Monmiral yet to get off the mark over fences – although, he has been running to a decent level.

The ground, which is near-on guaranteed to have ‘good’ in the going description, is a slight concern, but the trip should be fine and I would hope Gerri Colombe has enough class to beat these, even if not at his absolute best.

*odds correct at time of writing

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