The Tingle Creek and the Becher Chase are two great races that resonate through the National Hunt calendar and today they raise their proud heads again. Two races that have champions in their honours roll. The Becher gives us a jumping clue to potential National Horses and the Tingle Creek the Queen Mother Champion Chase. It’s a great days jumping at Aintree and Sandown and Channel 4 have done us proud with 8 races of real quality.
1:35 AINTREE Becher Handicap Chase (Grade 3) Cl1 3m1f188y
We are looking for sound confident jumpers who are happy to do so at pace. This distance is a mile and a bit shorter than the National and on decent ground they go a right clip so your selection really needs to be a fearless jumper. Our shortlist looks like this. Kim Bailey’s, The Last Samuri, who despite carrying top weight is the right type to do well over this test and stamina is his strong suit. He is also a pretty sound jumper. Bob Ford, whose stable are now in great form and who really needs a test of both jumping and stamina may be seen to best effect here. Alvarado who should be spot on after his latest outing and who got round well in the National is a likely favourite. Vieux Lion Rouge who also completed the course, in a different race but goes well fresh is a fancy for David Pipe and The Young Master who gets this trip and further and is a real athlete. Picking two is not easy so let’s have three in this thrilling race.
1 unit e/w The Young Master
1 unit e/w The Last Samurai
1 unit e/w Vieux Lion Rouge
1:55 SANDOWN Racing Post Henry VIII Novices´ Chase (Grade 1) Cl1 1m7f119y
Al Ferof, Fair Along and Ar Mad, amongst other notables have all won this race and we may well see a very strong Arkle favourite if Altior jumps round the Esher fences. Charbell, Marracudja and to a lesser extent Max Ward, are no back numbers but on hurdling form and noises from the stable Altior may be the real deal. You can’t back against him and you have to take short odds and then hope he gets all the Railway fences right but if you do then the forecast 1/3 may well look very attractive at about 2.00pm
4 units win Altior
2:10 AINTREE Handicap Hurdle Cl2 2m4f
Leoncavallo showed decent form behind Sceau Royal at Cheltenham but his next run was not so good and he doesn’t look well treated now. Ian Williams horses are flying and Byron Flyer is no exception with wins in May and June and then a better one at Doncaster last week. He is on the up. Hunters Hoof struggled when going Novice chasing but has good form in good races and is a big price and Clondaw Kaempfer is better than his latest showing at Bangor but after such a long break he is entitled to have come on for that outing. In a tight handicap we will take a chance with the McCain horse who looked like he had a decent future in 2015.
1 unit e/w Clondaw Kaempfer
2:25 SANDOWN Jumeirah Hotels And Resorts December Handicap Hurdle (Listed Race) Cl1 1m7f216y
This is a good hurdle race. Lil Rockerfella led them a merry dance last year and Petit Robin was a winner back in 2012. This year the strongest on paper looks to be Zubayr who needed the run when falling as a tired horse at Wincanton but he has a touch of class about him and he just might have a fitness advantage of the Skelton horse, Indietir who races for the first time in the UK and the first time since 2015 but he is a class act on his French form. It really should be between these two and we have to fancy the Nichols runner just on the benefit of a recent run but Indietir might well be a Champion Hurdle contender as well. Wishful Thinking, Consul De Thaix and Brain Power all need to improve to win this race, as good as they are, which is pretty good. This is a hot race. Lets hope we see a star emerge.
2 units e/w Zubayr
Many Clouds sets out on his journey towards Cheltenham and Aintree. What a wonderful chaser he is. At only 9 years of age he should be capable of getting it right first time out but it won’t be easy. Irish Cavalier was terrific at Wetherby but really didn’t handle conditions or the opposition at Haydock. Le Mercurey is a strong contender at his best but he is a bit in and out at this level. Minella Rocco was terrific at Cheltenham in the Hunt Chase and again back at Cheltenham but he may need further than this to be at his best and it will be interesting to see how Cocktails at Dawn fairs at this level. He looks promising if he stays on his feet. It’s an intriguing contest. If it’s a going day then it’s the Nichols horse as we think Many Clouds might just need the run and at the forecasted 8-1 he just looks too big but the safe option is to forget Irish Cavalier’s mud run at Haydock and remember how good he was at Wetherby
2 units win Irish Cavalier
3:00 SANDOWN Tingle Creek Chase (Grade 1) Cl1 1m7f119y
Last year’s Henry the VIII winner, Ar Mad is back to contest the big boys event for Gary and Joshua Moore who if they are to win have to beat the Champion, Sire de Grugy from their stable with brother Jamie on board – wonder who had first choice? Gods Own drops back to a more favourable trip after not quite staying the extra 5 furlongs at Ascot but still running a blinder and they will all have to go to catch the speedster Un De Sceaux who when on form is electric at his fences. We think Un De Sceaux is in for a big year and it starts here but he will have to be good to lower the colours of Gods Own and the Sire.
2 units win Un de Sceaux
3:15 AINTREE Grand Sefton Handicap Chase Cl2 2m5f19y
This is a lesser test of stamina than the Beecher but an even greater test of jumping because of the speed they go. Harry Fry’s Henryville has an attractive profile in terms of 2015 but he hasn’t quite delivered on that save a good performance at Exeter in March. Valadom was impressive at Bangor when winning for Richard Hobson and Benny’s Mist will have good memories of 2015’s victory in this race. He may well be spot on for this. We also like the look of La Vaticane who could be an improver for David Pipe who is desperately searching for a talisman chaser.
1 unit e/w La Vaticane
1 unit e/w Valadom
3:30 SANDOWN London National Handicap Chase Cl2 3m4f166y
It’s all about stamina in the last and there is no hiding place here. In the winter of 2015 Rocky Creek was fabulous but we have to wonder if the handicapper has him now. His first run this season was very good though. Kerry Lee is probably hoping it pours before this race as Mountainous seems to love the test but it’s probable this is just a sighter for later in the year. We like Doing Fine, Loose Chips and Court By Surprise and Belmount. Loose Chips and Court by Surprise have form that sees them closely matched after their tussle at Sandown, Doing Fine might find it all happening a bit quick so that leaves us with Belmount for Nigel Twiston Davies who puts his son up after a long injury and it would be a fitting return. It might just happen that way.
1 unit e/w Belmount
1 unit e/w Loose Chips