A small but select field of four will go to post for tomorrow’s Tingle Creek Chase with Altior 8/11 market leader with BetVictor. Irish raider, and winner of the race back in 2016, Un De Sceaux is 9/2 with recent impressive Cheltenham winner Sceau Royal 5s and Saint Calvados – who had Arkle winner Footpad cooked when the latter came down at the last on his reappearance – the 6/1 outsider of what is a high-quality quartet.
I am loath to desert Cap St Vincent in the Sandown opener given he has done us a couple of favours in recent weeks and is 3lbs “well in” despite carrying a 7lbs penalty for his recent Musselburgh win. My concern is that both his recent successes were gained on good ground and underfoot conditions (described as good to soft and soft in places with further rain forecast yesterday) are likely to be less than ideal.
Enola Gay (12.50) ran a good race on his comeback in a competitive Chepstow handicap and can race from the same mark this afternoon. I remember when the selection was beaten on his chase debut by Vocaliser at Taunton when he was well punted and jumped very well. I am sure there are races to be won by Venetia Williams’s five-year-old from this mark – he gets the each way vote.
The feature event is the Grade 2 Novice Hurdle over 2m 4f and Welsh raider Quoi De Neuf (2.25) gets a narrow each way vote for Evan Williams. The selection cost £180,000 after winning his sole Irish point and won at Aintree on his first start for the yard last month. It promises to be an informative contest with plenty of future winners in opposition.
In the Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase Knockanrawley (3.00) has certainly been given a chance by the handicapper and returns from a seven-month absence 10lbs lower than when running a terrific race on his reappearance last season. The selection has run well fresh in the past and is another each way selection for Kim Bailey whose Newtide did us a favour earlier in the week.
The Novices’ Chase at Exeter would not look out of place on a Saturday at a Grade 1 track with at least three potentially top-class chasers in opposition. Aintree Grade 1 Novice Hurdle winner Black Op (2.35) gets the narrow vote on his chase debut for Tom George although Topofthegame and White Moon are others to consider in this intriguing race. Black Op has always suggested he would make a top-class chaser in time and his second to Samcro in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle is, arguably, the best hurdle form on offer.
Garrane (3.10) has hinted that an extreme test of stamina would suit and gets his opportunity in the 3m 6f Handicap Chase. The selection is only a 6-year-old but was a progressive staying hurdler who has jumped and stayed on very well on his two chase starts so far this term.
Eclat De Star (12.40) makes his British debut at Sedgefield for Jonjo O’Neill in the colours of JP McManus. The French import won a Bumper in the French provinces and can see off the challenge of Irish raider Thosedaysaregone who sets a fair but undemanding standard.
I think there are races to be won by the mare Socksy (2.15) over fences for Fergal O’Brien having had a pipe-opener over timber at Chepstow last month. O’Brien fits his mare with cheek-pieces for the first time and his talented conditional takes off a valuable 7lbs.
Panmolle (7.15) can go one better than when second at Wolverhampton last time and she can make it third time lucky at Kempton this evening.