Best bets for the Tingle Creek Meeting at Sandown Park 9th December 2023

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. A week later than usual I will be down in Esher with the usual suspects making their way from the far-flung corners of London; Mr Wilson, Mr Griffiths and Mr O’Leary and we gave a few other reprobates meeting us trackside so it should be a good Christmas booze-up if nothing else!

We have an extended card this year with the Fighting Fifth Hurdle added to the card after Newcastle was abandoned last week so it's an early start at 11.35am and eight races on the day. The going is heavy-soft in places on the Hurdle course and the Chase: soft-good to soft in places. Torrential rain is forecast overnight and they will inspect in the morning; fingers crossed they can race.

Best bets for the horse racing at Sandown Park, the Tingle Creek meeting

The first is the Listed 2m Betfair Claremont Novices' Hurdle. We have just the four runners and  Willmount is 2-5 overnight. The five-year-old won on his hurdling debut at Newbury last month and Nicky Henderson has made no secret of how much he likes this one. Booster Bob won in a canter on heavy at Uttoxeter last month and may take advantage if the jolly falters. I think I will be having a warming scotch in the bar watching this one. 

At 12,05 it's the 2m4f Betfair Supports Racing With Pride Mares' Handicap Hurdle Elle Est Beau is short at 11-8 but she may have got in here off a nice mark of 100; is due to rise 4lb. Tristan Durrell takes off another 5lb and to my eyes she appeared to be crying out for a longer trip when third over two-mile at Warwick last time on soft ground. Whisky Express was sixth in this last year and hasn't been seen in eleven months. If she's on a going day she could be in the mix. 

We stay over hurdles at 12.40 for the 2m7½f Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle. Chantry House was a top-class Novice Chaser a while back but lost his way somewhat and it's interesting he's back over hurdles this year. Third at Cheltenham on seasonal debut he has to be considered but of we get the rain it may get to deep for his liking. Dolphin Square won this last year and is rated 8lb lower this time around his season having somewhat petered out last year;  beaten a long way on Newbury reappearance. Operation Manna is in fine form but has been beaten on his two starts on heavy ground so that looks a negative. Hititi is unlikely to like the ground so that brings me to  Brinkley. The grey really went off the boil at the end of last season but was second at Uttoxeter on his reappearance a fortnight ago. Three of his four career wins have heavy in the going description and at 11-2 he is worth a punt to out stay his rivals in the slop. 

The first of the Grade One races is at 1.15 being the rearranged 2m Fighting Fifth Hurdle. The will he run won’t he run saga that has rumbled on all week and may not be over yet if the going gets too heavy. We may get to see Constitution Hill run, we may not. This track on this day back in 2021 is where I first got to see the two-mile champ in action when he won the opening race on the card, a Novices' Hurdle over the two-mile trip, on his debut under rules by fourteen lengths. I actually backed Might I, who went off jolly and finished second; we all thought we had seen a special horse and so it has proven to be. You can't back against him but you can't back him either! Shishkin of course also lines-up having blotted his copybook refusing to race last time; he faces the smaller obstacles for the first time since 2020 and on that old form would have a chance if his stablemate is pulled. Love Envoi will no doubt be jolly if the Champ doesn't run. 

The Grade One 1m7½f Betfair Henry VIII Novices' Chase is at 1.50. JPR One looked all over the winner of the G.2 Arkle Challenge Trophy Trial Novices' Chase at Cheltenham last month before unseating his rider at the last. His jumping looked good until the blunder at the last and I think he may take high order in the two-mile Novice Chase division this year. He has winning form on heavy ground, albeit in lesser company, I am on at 7-4 overnight. 

Back to the hurdle course at 2.24 for the 2m Rachael Blackmore Serial Winners Fund Handicap Hurdle. Four-year-old chestnut gelding Punta Del Este has winning form on heavy out in France, proper heavy, and was second on similar ground at Wetherby last month behind Richmond Lake. The third that day has won since giving the form a good look. He went well for a long way in the Fred Winter last March and at 7-1 with Coral is worth an investment here. I know a couple of the lads I am going with are on this one so if you hear a mob cheering him over the last it will be us. Impose Toi is feared but the ground is an unknown for him. Spirit D'aunou was on the upgrade last year but was to eager at Cheltenham on his seasonal reappearance; he won't get away with that sort of thing on this going. 

The third of the big races, the race of the day, the Grade One 1m7½f Betfair Tingle Creek Chase is due off at 3.00. Jonbon is 1-3 and unbackable with perhaps the only questions mark against him being the going. He was an easy winner of the G.2 Shloer Chase three weeks ago at Cheltenham and is behind only El Fabiolo in the Champion Chase betting. Edwardstone goes well here, won this last year and has the  Henry VIII Novices' Chase on his CV as well but has over nine lengths to find with Jonbon from Cheltenham. 

The lucky last at 3.35 is the marathon 3m4½f Betfair Exchange London National Handicap Chase and if it is heavy going on the day they will be finishing strung out like the washing in this!  Fontaine Collonges stays and has winning form on heavy so heads the shortlist. The yard of Venetia Williams is in cracking form and Ned Fox takes off what could be a very handy 5lb. He has gone well fresh in the past and has undergone some more wind surgery over the break. Paddy have gone 16-5 overnight and I have it. 

Be lucky