Another sensational weekend of jumps racing in Britain and Ireland and we begin our preview at Sandown where the feature race today is the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase. Defi Du Seuil – 6/4 favourite at BetVictor – is the best horse in the race, but I’m not convinced a speed test over a trip just shy of two miles are his optimum conditions despite winning the Shloer Chase over the trip at Cheltenham on his seasonal reappearance.
Politilogue is closely matched with the favourite – 3lbs better off for just over a length – on Cheltenham running and Daryl Jacob has decided to ride Sceau Royal over Janika (3.00) but I think that the latter might be overpriced dropping back to the minimum trip for the first time. At 8/1 with BetVictor he gets the each way vote. The selection won the Haldon Gold Cup (2m 1f+) on his reappearance and the hope is that his fast, fluent jumping will take him into contention in a race that looks sure to be run at a decent clip.
Fiddlerontheroof (12.15) can make it third time lucky having finished runner up in both starts so far this season since moving to Britain. The form of the selection’s second at Chepstow in a Grade 2 back in October has been given a boost by the winner – Thyme Hill – following up at Cheltenham. Arrivederci is better than he has shown so far, and a check of the market is advised although he does need this run for a handicap mark.
Nube Negra did show a tendency to jump out to his left when winning at Market Rasen over hurdles but he has jumped his fences gun-barrel straight and he must go close in the Henry VIII Novice Chase for Dan and Harry Skelton. Marginal preference, however, is for Summerville Boy (1.50) who looked back to his very best when winning at Uttoxeter on his chase debut and did win the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle here over timber. The selection is 11/4 at BetVictor and he is an exciting recruit to the larger obstacles.
Paul Nicholls has a strong hand in the valuable listed December Hurdle with Malaya (Harry Cobden) and Ashutor (2.25) ridden by 7lbs claimer Bryan Carver in the field and the latter gets a narrow each way vote. I was very impressed by Carver’s riding at Wincanton – when he rode a double – earlier in the week and 10/1 with BetVictor looks a fair price. The selection was a bit keen on his reappearance and he is fitted with cheek-pieces for the first time this afternoon.
Two races over the National fences at Aintree this afternoon but earlier on in the card I am loath to desert Sammy Bill who did us a 12/1 favour when scoring at Kempton last time but has been raised a stone in the weights. The each way vote goes to Amoola Gold (12.30) who finished third at Newbury on his reappearance and is just 1lb higher in the weights.
Great to see the 2017 National winner One For Arthur – sixth behind Tiger Roll this year – line up for the Becher Chase but my two against the field are As De Mee (12/1 at BetVictor) and Vintage Clouds (1.30) with the latter getting the each way vote – 8/1 at BetVictor who are betting each way 5 places on the race.
The selection runs in the colours of Trevor Hemmings and represents Sue Smith whose string have bounced back to form of late. The 9-year-old only got as far as the first in the National back in the spring but, if he can get into a nice jumping rhythm for Danny Cook, I feel he is potentially well treated.
Might Bite (2.40) was not at his best last season but he is unbeaten in two starts over fences at Aintree and he is taken to reverse 2018 Gold Cup form with Native River who won an epic duel up the Cheltenham hill. First time out might be the time to catch the Henderson runner who is 5/2 with BetVictor.
There is some fabulous racing on Sunday and in the Peterborough Chase, I hope to see La Bague Au Roi (2.00) get back on track having disappointed at Wetherby on her reappearance when she was reported in season. The ground turned against her on the day and I didn’t think she was given the best of rides by Richard Johnson. I hope we see the mare return to her best. Aso has quite a bit in hand on the official figures but I am convinced the mare is top class and receives 8lbs from the other principles.
Min will be all the rage in the Grade 1 John Durkan at Punchestown, but I am a huge fan of Presenting Percy (1.50) and hope the 8-year-old can upset the odds on the Willie Mullins hotpot. The selection has not run since been a disappointing market leader – reported to have finished lame – in the Gold Cup and he obviously gets further, but this looks a nice starting point for Pat Kelly’s gelding who is 7/2 with BetVictor.