Friday, December 04, 2009

Tingle Creek day at Sandown

Precautionary inspections have been called for tomorrow's cards at both Sandown and Wetherby; the feature of the day is the Tingle Creek Chase run over two miles at Sandown. Last year's winner Master Minded, beaten by Well Chief at Cheltenham three weeks ago, misses this renewal as, following that surprise defeat, it was discovered he was suffering from a stress fracture to a rib. Five are set to face the starter, including Well Chief, but the race has a very trappy look to it; picking the winner won't be easy. Big Zeb has been marked up favourite but I'm inclined to oppose on two counts. Firstly, his trainer said earlier today he was worried about the soft ground for his charge. Secondly, of the eleven chases this horse has started since December 2007, he has won on four occasions but has notably fallen on four occasions. Failing to complete 36% of the time looks high in anybody's book and Sandown is a course that takes more jumping than most. On official ratings Paul Nicholls' Twist Magic is the one to beat but this horse is not one to trust implicitly. On his day he is very talented but he has run some stinkers in the past and on the odd occasion has shown a reluctance to start. Having said that, Sandown is a course he appears to like as he won this event in 2007 and was in the process of giving stablemate Master Minded a fright when coming to grief two out last year. Well Chief is ten years old, will be eleven in a month's time, but doesn't have a lot of miles on the clock. The trouble connections have had with this horse's legs has been well documented. His defeat of Master Minded the last time reads well, although he was in receipt of ten pounds and the current champion was subsequently found to have a problem. Barry Geraghty appears to have deserted Forpadydeplasterer for Big Zeb; McCoy comes in for a fine-looking spare ride. On official ratings Arkle winner Forpady has enough to make up with three of the field to get competitive. In the last few days I've read a comment that connections were going to use this race to determine whether to go up in distance with their charge - he finished fourth in the 2008 Ballymore Properties Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival which is run over two miles four plus. Mahogany Blaze appears a little outclassed but tactics will play a part in this small field as it doesn't look immediately obvious where the pace is going to come from. A trappy event - provided there are no obvious signs of temperament in the preliminaries, I'll take a chance with top-rated Twist Magic.

Only four in the Henry VIII Novices' Chase in which Emma Lavelle's Crack Away Jack will be expected to prevail against some useful opposition. A race to watch rather than bet on.

Some well known names in the opener - it will be interesting to see how Silverburn fares on his first run for Evan Williams. In a recent stable tour item his handler said, 'We're taking things one day at a time.' He could offer some each-way value for those brave enough to take the chance. Nick Gifford's Alderluck will be popular but former Lanzarote winner Nycteos catches my eye with just ten stones four on his back. He threw Ruby off at the second flight last Friday, having been off the track for nearly eighteen months. Perhaps he's still a little fresh but I prefer him to Ballyfitz who tries hurdles after jumping problems in two big chases in recent weeks and Fred Winter winner Silk Affair.

In the novices' hurdle Sonowyouno has to give eight pounds to the rest of the field on ground that is described as soft, heavy in places. I wouldn't be in a rush to take a short price and will consider opposing with Nicky Henderson's Master Of The Hall who has been described as having 'a high cruising speed'.

Kilbeggan Blade has won the last two renewals of the finale and has conditions to suit but Tom George's yard hasn't had a winner for a while. I would be prepared to forgive Never So Blue's last run at Cheltenham and will consider a small each-way interest if the price is right. Russian Trigger won the Midlands Grand National in March and should come on for his first run since the summer break three weeks ago. However he is one who needs to learn to respect the obstacles; connections hope he'll prove good enough for the Aintree National in the spring.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

No truculent behaviour from Twist Magic and Ruby's decision to make the running on the 9/4 second favourite paid handsome dividends as his mount's quick, accurate jumping had the rivals in trouble some way from home. The selection beat Padydeplasterer (9/2) fifteen lengths with 15/8 favourite Big Zeb disappointing in fourth. This was impressive but I wouldn't be inclined to take the form too literally, given the small field and the fact the race was run on soft ground. Tonight bookmakers are generally in agreement, offering 7/4 Master Minded for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, but there's a difference of opinion about the other contenders - you can have 10/1 (or bigger) any horse you like, but Ladbrokes only go 5/1 Twist Magic while Stan James offer just 6/1 Kalahari King. If you subscribe to the view that an animal with an uninterrupted preparation is best for Festival races, then at this stage 10/1 any of the challengers mentioned above may make some appeal.
Three jumped the last together in the novice chase but 8/11 favourite Crack Away Jack was done for toe by Hen Knight's Somersby (7/2). That win will have been welcomed by a stable that hasn't been in the best of form so far this season; over the years one thing that has impressed me about Hen Knight's novice chasers is they know how to jump.
I didn't expect Nycteos to be sent off 5/2 joint favourite but he was and the damned beast repeated his trick from the last time, dumping the jock at he second flight! Ballyfitz (7/1) took full benefit, with Silk Hall (12/1) taking third on the run-in from Alderluck (5/2jf). Silverburn (16/1) was beaten a distance and should be avoided until there are some signs of a re-kindling of interest...
Master Of The Hall (even money) beat Sonowyouknow (5/4) five lengths, scooting away from the last to win well; he looks worth keeping an eye on.
You have to hand it to the Racing Post's Pricewsie - his selection Eric's Charm (22/1 in to 8/1) won the London National less than a month away from his twelfth birthday. Never So Blue (5/1) was the best backed horse in the race but he didn't appear to stay the trip, losing touch from four out. 100/30 favourite Russian Trigger looked as though he'd refused at the eleventh but in actual fact he had broken down - jockey Jack Doyle was quick to dismount.