My love of the Tingle Creek meeting will be well known to any regular reader. I have said it before and I will say it again I love this day, proper racing with proper race fans, it really is one of my favourite meetings of the year.
I will be down in Esher with the usual suspects Mr Wilson, Mr Griffiths and once again Mr O’Leary as he is let out on good behaviour by the love of his life - twice in a year, she has him well trained these days. Big John and Diplomatic Dave are also making their way from form far flung corners of London and meeting us trackside all being well so it should be a good booze-up if nothing else!
The going on the Chase course is Good, Good to Soft (in places) and on the Hurdle track Good to Soft, Good (in places); there is the chance of a shower overnight and Saturday morning. It’s a seven-race card and I am involved in all of them and on overnight.
They get underway at 12.05 with the 2m Andy Stewart Sandown Park's Great Friend "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle with some potentially decent Novices on show. Hardkore caught the eye winning on debut at Chepstow as did Might I winning convincingly on his first start over Hurdles and though these two have the 6lb extra to carry they are the ones to concentrate on. Hardkore beat the odds-on Good Risk At All at Chepstow travelling strongly and going clear after the last suggesting he has some talent. Might I was very impressive at Newbury finishing well clear of the field comfortably. The form looks decent with two he beat that day winning since, most notably the second Thunder Rock who won well at Wetherby afterwards and now has an OR of 122. This five-year-old is by G.1 Ascot Gold Cup winner Fame & Glory out of an unraced dual Derby winner Old Vic mare called Our Honey. He has a pedigree that suggests he will be above average and he is a half-brother to a couple of winners both rated 140+. He might turn out to be one to follow and I am confidently on for this at 5-4 which is plenty short enough but I do see him as a good thing.
At 12.40 it’s the 2m4f Racing Is Everyone's Sport Mares' Handicap Hurdle a Challenger Mares' Hurdle Series Qualifier. Fable is a lightly raced six-year-old with a win in France to her name as a five-year-old who then moved to the care of Nicky Henderson running three times in the early spring here in the UK with form figures of a second (beaten a neck) and two wins. She is open to any amount of improvement yet and should be capable of leaving her current mark of 128 well behind as this season progresses. My biggest concern is whether the drop back in trip will inconvenience her, two of her three wins have been at three-miles. I am on at 7-2.
The 2m Betfair My Odds Boost Novices' Handicap Hurdle is at 1.15. Naturally High took a while to get the hang of hurdling, unseated on debut and never competitive in his next two starts. He appeared to have got the hang of it last time though at Lingfield where he was pretty impressive. He was a Listed winner out in France during his Flat career under Pascal Bary and actually run in the G.1 Prix Du Jockey Club and G.2 Prix Niel so has some talent; he is by far the best of those who run on the Turf earlier in their careers. In a wide-open affair it is hoped he can pop over the last in contention before showing the field a clean pair of heels on the flat where his class should tell. Get on at 9-4.
It’s top-class action at 1.50 with the Grade One 1m7½f Close Brothers Henry VIII Novices' Chase. Third Time Lucki arrives with two wins next to his name following two wins at Cheltenham this campaign looking like a Novice Chaser to keep on side. Two wins at Cheltenham is no bad way to start you Chasing career. His jumping at Prestbury Park was foot perfect which bodes well for a run around here and the Railway Fences should not be a problem for this one. I took Evens on Tuesday as I thought he’d go odds-on which was a mistake as he has drifted slightly. I am kicking myself for having the wrong price but I remain convinced he’ll win. Edwardstone is a danger but I see no reason to believe he can improve passed the jolly. Paul Nicholls know what is required to win this race so Il Ridoto enters calculations after his Newbury handicap win last week getting the 6lb but this is a big step-up in class.
We stay at the top table at 2.25 for the Grade One 1m7½f Betfair Tingle Creek Chase. For the big one I bet Chacun Pour Soi at 11-8 on Monday and I am pretty happy with that as I stands. A five-time Grade One winner I think he is a solid bet the only blot on the copybook being the Queen Mother Champion Chase last year when something was obviously amiss; it shouldn't be forgotten he was still only beaten a length-and-a-half. We saw the real Chacun Pour Soi in the G.1 William Hill Champion Chase in the April and all being well that’s the one we will see on Saturday. Nube Negra was beaten 24½ lengths that day and though I would expect the seven-year-old to be closer here I see no reason to think he can beat an on-form Chacun Pour Soi. As I said in the post on Monday Greaneteen is decent but was well held on his seasonal debut in the G.2 Haldon Gold Cup and needs to improve 10lb or so to win this whilst Captain Guinness and Hitman will need to improve over a stone and for the principals to falter to have a chance.
It’s the marathon 3m5f Betfair Exchange London National Handicap Chase at 3.00. Strictlyadancer will be popular arriving with three 1’s next to his name but he has been busy this season already and this will require improvement again off a mark of 129. All his wins have been over three furlongs or more less and the last time he went this far he was beaten sixty-one lengths. Desie Aba ran well at Aintree four-weeks ago but this trip is a step into the unknown for him. Highland Hunter has to be considered but this is a big ask on seasonal debut whilst Larry is another to consider, won the G.3 London Gold Cup last time, but he has never won over further than three-mile. Christmas In April likes marathon and advertised his well-being when second at Carlisle in October. This would require a career best effort but he will get the trip and the yard of Colin Tazzard is in fair form. 7-1 is about and I have a bit of that as I think he’ll be going strong when others start crying enough.
The lucky last at 3.35 is the Listed 2m Betfair Daily Rewards December Handicap Hurdle. There is a couple of progressive four-year-olds in here that get a chunk of weight with Hudson De Grugy catching my eye earlier in the week being 134 rated with only 10-11 to carry. His track and trip record reads a second and three wins including taking a handicap here in November. With likely improvement yet the Gary Moore trained gelding can take this and at 4-1 is well worth a punt.Be lucky