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.
The usual suspects are gathered for the annual pilgrimage to Esher, Stu and Matty are in attendance as ever and even Mr Mark O’Leary has been granted a day out by the old ‘ball and chain’ for good behaviour!
We are up and at ‘em early doors so the tips for the seven races are going up in plenty of time. The weather forecast is pretty fair for the day and the going is Soft.
They get underway at 12.15 with the Core Spreads "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle. I Can't Explain is an interesting newcomer for Nicky Henderson, won his point-point by 12 lengths on soft-heavy out in Ireland. 2-1 is short enough but I wouldn't lay 4s. Smiths Cross was on my mind but he goes to Chepstow.
The next is the 2m4f Elmbridge mares' Handicap Hurdle. Queens Magic is the one for this; of what we have seen it would appear she might want better going than this but I will take a chance at 4-1 on her handicap debut.
Third on the card is the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle. Another Emotion was entered here and at Chepstow but has come here for this. Lightly raced he is open to improvement and is another that won’t mind getting his toe in. Lightly raced you would expect there is more to come from the 6-year-old grab 9-2 with Hills.
The Grade One Henrv VIII Novices' Chase at 1.50 has been won in the past by the likes of Altior (more on him later) Al Ferof and of course Sceau Royal last year. Kayley Woollacott's stable star Lalor looked pretty decent in an impressive victory in the Racing Post Arkle Trial at Cheltenham last month with a surprisingly poor Defi Du Seuil well beaten. At the time the plans did not include this race but he does line-up. He was fourth in the betting of the five runners that day so you could argue it was far from an expected victory. Likely to improve again, he could, perhaps should win, but I can’t back him at odds-on. He will have to improve against the likes of Diakali who has made his own fairly impressive start to Chasing for the yard of Gary Moore and arrives with more experience being three from three over the bigger obstacles. The nine-year-old grey was no slouch over Hurdles either, rated as high as 158 whilst with Willie Mullins. For some reason Paddy Power went 7-1 earlier this week when everyone else was 9-2 or shorter so I took an each-way punt with the older horse.
The Listed Jumeirah Hotels And Resorts December Handicap Hurdle is the fifth race. Totterdown must be on the shortlist following his 25-1 recent track and trip win on Heavy especially if we get a downpour. That said Nicky Henderson's talented mare Apple's Shakira should be too good for these if anywhere near the best of her form last season and any further ease in the ground should play to her strengths; I am on at 7-2.
They face the starter for the big one at 3.00, the Grade One Tingle Creek. It is looking a cracking renewal with a select field. Reigning two-mile Champ Altior will be facing Un de Sceaux, Saint Calvados and Sceau Royal. I am a fan of them all, huge fan of Un de Sceaux, but the Champ has looked head and shoulders above the rest through his career and is, of course, unbeaten over obstacles – his last defeat coming in his bumper days. I took 8-13 bpg with Betfair on their Sportsbook on Monday.
The lucky last is the Betfair London National Handicap Chase over 3m5f. Caroles Destrier won this back in 2015 and knows the course well having also run in the G.3 Bet365 Gold Cup twice; the 10-year-old hasn't looked as good though this year. Shanroe Santos won the Southern National last time at Fontwell and the 5lb rise in the weights doesn’t look harsh. Appears to love these long distance and I think he could relish this marathon trip and stiff finish cracking on when others are crying enough. At 8-1 he is the one for me to hopefully send us home happy.