Friday, December 22, 2023

The 2023 renewal of the Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase

With Christmas arrangements suddenly subjected to substantial revision, I haven't spent as much time as I'd like on tomorrow's Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase (1.30 Haydock). 

Famous Bridge beat the mares Credo (second) and Eleanor Bob (fourth) in the Betfair "Free Racing Multiples Today" Handicap Chase over course and distance four weeks ago. 

That day Eleanor Bob jumped well in the main at the head of affairs while Famous Bridge raced in midfield with Credo held up at the back. 

Famous Bridge crept towards the pace on the second circuit, led at the final flight and looked to have more than enough in the tank to repel fast-finishing Credo whereas Eleanor Bob just weakened on the long run-in, only beaten four and a quarter lengths in the end. 

Famous Bridge heads the market; the trio look closely matched again. 

Lucy Turner, who won the Becher on Chambard two weeks ago, replaces Charlie Deutsch aboard Eleanor Bob and her five pound claim could prove a significant advantage on heavy ground.

I wonder whether Sam Twiston-Davies will ride Credo nearer the pace tomorrow - she was certainly flying at the finish last time.

Following wind surgery in the summer Enqarde beat Docpickedme at Warwick six and a half weeks ago. That was some effort, his first win since beating Remastered ten lengths in the 2021 renewal of this race; he started off a mark of 128 that day and goes off 127 tomorrow.

On ground that was probably quicker than ideal last season's Topham winner Bill Baxter finished eighth behind Datsalrightgino in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury three weeks ago. 

In a subsequent Straight from the Stable article [RP Weekender 13-17.12.23] handler Warren Greatrex said:

"It was an amazing day when he won the Topham for us at the Grand National meeting in April and we have the big one in mind.

"He ran a very good race at Newbury in the Coral Gold Cup but needs softer ground.

"I loved how he stayed on and passed a few horses on his first try at that extended trip. He's definitely improved this season and has come out of the race well, so we could look at the Tommy Whittle at Haydock next week...

"He needs to go up to get in the National, probably 7lb, so he's got to win a race and I was chuffed with how he never missed a beat in a big field at Newbury. That has taken a trip question mark out of it and, in soft or heavy ground, he'll be hard to beat in the right race next time."

He has been dropped three pounds for that Newbury run and goes off 140 tomorrow.

On his first run over three miles Cooper's Cross won the Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster in January and subsequently finished a three-length second to Kitty's Light in the Scottish Grand National.

On balance this one has shown his best form on better ground but he was noted 'going easily' when hampered and coming to grief four out in the Topham won by Bill Baxter.

The mare Burrows Diamond has been nibbled at in the market and hails from the in-form Sue Smith yard which boasts a 20% win strike rate over the past fortnight. 

Dr Kananga likes to race from the front and returns to the track after wind surgery over the summer while Conkwell Legend has just three chase starts to his name and finished tailed off behind Stay Away Fay in the Esher Novices' Chase at Sandown last time.

Just nine declared but no easy puzzle to solve; I'm going to take Warren Greatrex at his word. 

Bill Baxter is the win selection, 11/2 with Sky who will refund losing stakes if the grey places second or third, or alternatively, 13/2 with bet365 at the time of writing.

Season's greetings.  



TW said...

BILL BAXTER (IRE),149,0.18
CREDO (IRE),148,0.16
ENQARDE (FR),142,0.04
DR KANANGA,129,0.01

With most of the field having to answer at least one question in regard of going or trip a race I'll happily pass.

Good luck for a pre Christmas result!


GeeDee said...

Season's greetings, TW.

Thanks for providing your ratings.

GeeDee said...

Connections of Bill Baxter will need to revise plans after this run.

Settled in midfield, Bill Baxter (5/1) couldn't go with the principals in the final half mile or so and looked a tired horse jumping the last couple of flights.

He eventually finished fourth, just under 20 lengths behind Famous Bridge (5/2f) who appeared to outstay Burrows Diamond (12/1) on the run-in with Credo claiming third, just under six lengths behind the winner.