Megan Nicholls Racing Tips – Sandown & Aintree

BetMGM ambassador Megan Nicholls offers her insight into the world of horse racing as she brings her first-rate knowledge exclusively to our blog every week.

In this entry the former jockey, who rode more than 110 winners before turning her hand to television punditry, casts her eye over Saturday’s meetings at Sandown and Aintree.

Eyecatcher of the Week – Givemefive

Givemefive, who won for Harry Derham at Market Rasen on Thursday, is my horse to follow.

He’s a horse I bought from Johnny Murtagh and it was awesome to see him winning first time out for the yard and first time over hurdles. He jumped brilliantly in what on paper looked quite a tidy race and he travelled really well throughout.

Harry said afterwards that he will be seen over Christmas at Kempton and I'm looking forward to seeing him back on the track.

He's definitely a juvenile to follow this season – he looks like he enjoys the mud, has a great attitude and jumps well. Hopefully he will move on to bigger and better things.

Saturday Racing Tips

Sandown 1.15 – Fighting Fifth Hurdle

It goes without saying that Constitution Hill (1/5 fav) should be very hard to beat. It could be a good weekend for trainer Nicky Henderson, with Jonbon also running in the Tingle Creek later in the day.

The only concern you could ever have with Constitution Hill is if he ever came up out of Nico de Boinville's hands too long and landed in a heap on the backside of a hurdle. As a rule, he's very good but we have seen him come out of Nico's hands and stretch it to the limit.

But that’s the only concern – he's super-talented and he's beaten most of these horses out of sight previously.

I think Love Envoi (7/1) would be the horse to finish in behind. She loves Sandown and is three from three at the track. Any rain will do her no harm; she loves testing conditions, continues to improve every season and is the most likely runner-up.

Megan’s Tip: Constitution Hill 1st, Love Envoi 2nd (Forecast)

Sandown 1.50 – Henry VIII Novices' Chase

This race always ends up being a fairly small field – but I like the chances of JPR One (15/8 fav).

By the off of the race, he will be much shorter than he opens up and I think he will be well supported. He was impressive on his chasing debut at Newton Abbot and then jumped impeccably around Cheltenham next time before making an unfortunate mistake at the last. He jumped it well but just didn't get his landing gear out in time. He slithered to landing which was unfortunate as he was going to absolutely bolt up.

It's nice to see him back – and none the worse for that mishap – and I just believe the way he travelled and jumped through the race at Cheltenham was really eye-catching. Jockey Brendan Powell said he had a really good feel for the horse and trainer Joe Tizzard also thinks an awful lot of him.

Providing he is back to his best after what happened – and there is no reason why he won't be – JPR One will be pretty hard to beat. I'm keen on his chances.

Megan’s Tip: JPR One WIN

Aintree 2.05 – [Becher Handicap Chase] (/sports#racing/event/1020317084)

It's nice to have a slightly bigger field with 14 runners. Trying to find form over the bigger fences can be funny.

On the one hand, you have those who have had good experiences. Percussion, for example, has run into the placings three times when he has been there over the bigger fences, which is obviously a positive. He clearly likes it and handles the National track well.

On the other hand, you have horses that have run in the Grand National and not completed. Sometimes that can put you off. For example, Coko Beach had completed the Grand National once but pulled up in this year’s race – sometimes it can put them off if they didn't have the most fun round there, while the big fields can also have an impact.

I like the chances of Percussion - but I think my pick is going to be a horse that hasn't been around there yet but tends to jump well and that is Highland Hunter (9/1).

He stays extremely well – he made a nice return on his stable debut for Fergal O'Brien and soft ground would not be an issue for him. He is fairly sensible at the price so it’s Highland Hunter for me, with Percussion running into a placing as he usually does over these fences.

Megan’s Tip: Highland Hunter WIN; Percussion E/W

Aintree 2.40 – Juvenile Hurdle

I will go with Liari (7/20 fav). He is one of my dad’s horses and is a son of Cracksman. He’s a gorgeous big horse.

I think Cracksman will be a lovely sire for the jumpers – he loved soft ground himself and I don't think his progeny have an issue with it. Certainly, the flat runners we have seen by him don't mind a bit of juice, and Liari won't mind it either.

He pulled nicely clear of one other on his debut for us at Wincanton and I love the way he battled after making a little error. He picked himself back up and stayed on until the line. I think he will be a bit sharper for that initial experience.

There are a couple of other interesting horses in the race. Le Fauve for Dan Skelton has had one run where he was second in France and was bought after that. He's interesting – it's hard to know his true ability yet so we are just guessing a little bit on his French form, which is challenging to look into given it was such a small field.

Megan’s Tip: Liari WIN

Sandown 3.00 – Tingle Creek Chase

This looks very straightforward with Jonbon (3/10 fav) in there.

He was very good when returning at Cheltenham in top form in the Shloer Chase last month. A positive and attacking ride seems to suit him – he jumped fantastically and visually was very impressive.

It's interesting that some of the riders in behind, especially Harry Skelton, were shocked at the pace he set and the pace he kept up, suggesting that it was just an unbelievable performance.

He warrants all the respect, and it's hard to see him getting turned over. If he jumps round, he shouldn't get beat.

Megan’s Tip: Jonbon WIN Browse all our horse racing markets here

Odds correct at time of publication but subject to fluctuation

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