It’s a busy 48 hours this weekend with the Tingle Creek meeting at Sandown Saturday and the Longines Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin on Sunday. I dealt with Hong Kong on the blog Thursday – go and take a look if you haven’t already as I think I have four winners. Today I am all about Sandown and the Tingle Creek.
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 for a second year running on good behaviour by the missus. If you are also making your way down be aware that the trains are likely to be a nightmare with strike action ongoing. Hurdle course is soft, heavy in places with the Chase course good to soft, soft in places; I have tips for all seven races on the card all prices quoted are BPG overnight.
The meeting gets underway at 12.15 with the two-mile Peter & Thelma Brooks Diamond Anniversary "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle. Sporting John was on my mind for this but doesn’t run and that I think now leaves this at the mercy of Fiddlerontheroof. The five-year-old has been beaten the last twice but his second to Thyme Hill is possibly the best form on show and he did win on the soft at Navan earlier this year. He should have too much for this field. Grab the best price you can, the only ones to have chalked-up at the time of writing was Bet365 at 11-8.
It’s the 2m4f trip at 12.50 for the Elmbridge Mares' Handicap Hurdle. Another heat where I had to have a rethink as the one I had pencilled in Kissesforkatie run, and won, at Wincanton earlier this week. Oriental Cross won well last time on heavy going and is considered. Crossgalesfamegame won in convincing fashion last month at Market Rasen over 2m4½f finishing 12 lengths clear appearing to enjoy the test on heavier going. The yard of Fergal O’Brien is in magnificent form and with the five-year-old open to improvement yet she is the pick at 9-2.
At 1.20 we have a Pertemps Hurdle Series Qualifier in the shape of the 2m7f Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle looks a wide-open affair. Lord Of The Island won over track and trip last time and is another from the O’Brien yard. This would require a career-best effort though and he aint getting any younger. Boyhood has to shoulder top-weight but is back below his highest winning mark. The trip holds no fears and underfoot conditions are perfect and at around 9-1 he is the one for me.
It’s the first of the Grade One action at 1.50 with the Read Road To Cheltenham At racingtv.com Henry VIII Novices' Chase. Torpillo won here twice over hurdles and looks worth a tilt at this. The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained four-year-old made an impressive start to his chasing career when beating Mister Fisher by three lengths at Warwick last month, with subsequent Plumpton scorer Lisp in third. Grand Sancy arrives off the back of a fair second in the G.2 Elite Hurdle but this looks a big ask on Chase debut. Summerville Boy was the best Hurdler and won well enough in the Kalahari King Beginners' Chase at Uttoxeter on his first try over the bigger obstacles beating First Flow. He showed some fighting spirit in the soft, heavy in places going and they were pretty well strung out behind. At 7-2 he is my pick in an open looking heat.
Listed action next for the Jumeirah Hotels And Resorts December Handicap Hurdle at 2.25 and it’s stick a pin in time with it 6-1 the field - I have actually had a serious look at this. Protekorat was just beaten here last time over C&D on the heavy and my concern with him is he but does seem to find a way to get beat. Mack The Man has to be considered off a low weight as does Sleep Easy at a bigger price. Smarty Wild racked up a hat-trick of wins earlier this season and won last time out in good style at Exeter – tailed-off when tried over 2m5f at Cheltenham between victories. Every chance there is more to come from the 5yo yet and he is my tentative pick at 6-1.
At 3.00 it’s the dish of the day the 1m7½f (to be precise) Grade One Betfair Tingle Creek Chase. It is a top-notch renewal with Defi Du Seuil taking on two former Tingle Creek winners in Politologue and Un De Sceaux. It has caused me a headache or two in the build-up with a couple of my favourite horses running. At eleven-years-old Un De Sceaux shouldn’t be getting better but he won the G.1 Champion Chase at Punchestown in April like a spring chicken and the 2016 winner has to be on the shortlist. Comes here rather than taking up engagements in Ireland. He had to settle for second, finishing four lengths behind Altior last year which was hardly a disgrace. If the old boy can get into a good rhythm upfront he could take the young upstarts out of their comfort zone and give them a real test. He would probably have preferred it softer still underhoof but the rain Thursday evening and during Friday did his chances no harm and with the chase course good to soft, soft in places I have taken the 4-1 and hopefully, it will be Grade One number 11! The young pretender to the crown and the one I so nearly backed is Defi Du Seuil who started his second season over the bigger obstacles with a good win in the G.2 Shloer Chase. The six-year-old is rated 8lb inferior to the old Irish raider and I have a sneaky feeling a longer trip is more his game – see 2m4f JLT Novices' Chase win last year. Politologue finished second to Defi in the Sholer Chase and is 3lb better at the weights here. Owner John Hales believes Politologue has a great chance of reversing the form and he will be in the mix turning for home. Sceau Royal and Janika are both decent but look to be running for place money at best.
The lucky last is the marathon 3m5f Betfair London National Handicap Chase and it’s another real headscratcher. Grade Three bet365 Gold Cup Handicap Chase winner Step Back is the one with track and trip form. The nine-year-old goes well fresh, two wins and a second on seasonal reappearances so the fact this is his first run since April is seen as a positive. I have a bit of the 6-1 and hope he can send us punters home happy. Classic Ben will be jolly but will he stay?