The Tingle Creek is the big race at Sandown where Defi Du Seuil, Un De Sceaux and Politologue all clash. Defi Du Seuil comes in with the strongest form in the book but Un De Sceaux has been there, done that. Elsewhere on the card, Shanroe Santos can land the London National and Grand Sancy looks the one in the Henry VIII Chase. We get our first taste of the National fences on Saturday where Walk In The Mill can land back to back Becher Chase’s and Federici looks value n the Grand Sefton.
Henry VIII Novices’ Chase
The likes of Altior and Al Ferof have taken this in the past and although Torpillo may not be in their league he looks like a smart novice chaser. Nigel Twiston-Davies charge beat Mister Fisher on chasing debut and looks like the type to do well over fences.
Nube Negra has jumped very well on both chase runs this far at Warwick and Fakenham He came up well short in Grade 1 company over hurdles but already seems to be a better chaser than hurdler.
Paul Nicholls Grand Sancy finished runner-up in the Tolworth and won the Kingwell last season. The son of Diamond Boy should do well over fences as many of his progeny do and it’ll be interesting to see how he fares here on chase debut.
Selection: Grand Sancy
December Handicap Hurdle
Malaya won the Imperial Cup off just a four-pound lower mark last season but has been quite overwhelming in two runs thus far this season. A return to Sandown needs to spark a revival and at the prices, I’ll look elsewhere.
Song For Someone has to give weight to all his rivals having already won twice over hurdles and he also finished in the Grade 1 Juvenile event at Aintree behind Pentland Hills. He’s a smart filly but may struggle to give the weight away.
Philip Hobbs has his string in great form and Smarty Wild has already won four of his six starts over timber. she was found out in handicap company at Cheltenham, so I find it hard to see him featuring.
It may seem strange to tip up a maiden in listed company but Protektorat is a very smart individual. He ran well in a brace of Grade 2’s last season and was only just denied at Sandown on seasonal debut. He should improve for the run and I quite like his chances.
Tingle Creek Chase
There are two pas winners running here in the form of Politologue and the ever-green Un De Sceaux. willie Mullins’ inmate also finished runner-up last season behind Altior. The eleven-year-old mudlark only ran three times last season but looked better than ever when winning the Grade 1 Champion Chase at Punchestown. He’s got a good record when fresh and must be taken seriously.
The aforementioned Politologue took this race back in 2017 and ran a “fine” race in defeat behind Defi Du Seuil in the Sholer at Cheltenham. Another good run looks assured but I can’t see him reversing the form with “Defi” who won two Grade 1’s last season and could be a cut above his rivals here.
The very lightly-raced Waiting Patiently has nearly gone two years without a victory which is concerning but Ruth Jefferson’s stable star has run some good races in defeat. He’s got undoubted talent but ay struggle to beat the favourite.
Selection: Defi Du Seuil
This is a very open looking contest with Classic Ben topping the market. Stuart Edmunds smart inmate has only won once over fences which came at Sandown but he’ll improve plenty from his recent comeback run and could feature.C
Mark Bradstock always does well with his staying types and Step Back is no different. He pulled in the National when quietly fancied but there is no shame in that and did run well over course and distance at the end of April. He seems best over this course and must be considered.
I’ll side with Shanroe Santos who had a busy campaign last season including the Southern National at Fontwell. He looks competitively handicapped and ran well on his first run since a wind-op on seasonal debut, so must hit the frame.
Selection: Shanroe Santos
The eye is always drawn to horses with course form over the National fences and straight away we have two previous winners in the race with Walk In The Mill and Vieux Lion Rouge. David Pipe’s charge was also second in the race last season and is now two-pounds lower which should bring him into the reckoning.
Walk In The Mill was having his first taste of the National fences when winning this race last season. He obviously relishes the discipline as he went on to finish fourth behind Tiger Roll in the National itself. He’s just four-pounds higher twelve months on and holds strong claims for back-to-back victories.
Former Grand National winner One For Arthur needs little introduction having shot to prominence with his victory back in 2017 under Derek Fox. He’s only run four times since that glorious day but did finish sixth behind Tiger Roll last season. He will be staying on through beaten horses but he won’t have the pace to win this.
Mulcahys Hill is strongly fancied by connections to win here and is having his first run over the National fences here. He looked good when winning on seasonal debut at Cheltenham and if taking to the course, he’s got the class to win.
Selection: Walk In The Mill
Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle
Midnights’ Gift runs here for the in-form Alan King yard and rallied well to win on hurdling debut after hitting the last. She progressed nicely on the flat prior to this run and should confirm the form with Break The Rules who was just a short-head behind that rival at Fakenham.
Dr Richard Newland does incredibly well with his acquisitions from other yards and could have a nice prospect on his hands with Operatic Export. The daughter of Vocalised was thought highly enough to run in Group 3 company by Jim Bolger on the flat and although she was slightly regressive the change of scenery should suit and is an interesting runner on hurdling debut.
It was slightly disappointing that Gavrocheka was beaten at Ludlow on debut for the Philip Hobbs yard but the nicely-bred daughter of Spanish Moon will have learnt plenty and should feature.
Selection: Operatic Export
Many Clouds Chase
Former Gold Cup winner Native River tops the market here and he’s arguably the classiest horse in the race. That being said this will be his first run at Aintree and I don’t think the flat track will play to his strengths.
The talented if quirky Might Bite had a dismal 2018/2019 season especially when pulling up in the Gold Cup. He’s a dual Grade 1 course and distance winner which has to be factored in and Nicky has rejuvenated similar types in the past.
The ever-popular Black Corton runs here for Paul Nicholls and although he’s a Grade 1 winner that was in novice company and I think he’ll struggle against “proper” Grade 1 performers.
Selection: Might Bite
Grand Sefton Handicap Chase
Nigel Twiston-Davies has historically done well with his runners over the National fences and won this very race back in 2012 with Little Josh. He runs Flying Angel here who’s three pounds well in here following his victory at Ascot last month.
Touch Kick has always been well talked off in the Nicholls’ stable and he travelled incredibly well to win at Fakenham in October. This race will have been earmarked for him since and should run well.
Ultragold is a regular in these races winning the Topham in 2017 and 2018 and he also finished runner-up in this race in 2017. He also finished third in the Becher off six-pounds higher last season. His runs since have been less than inspiring but over these fences, he’s a different animal and can’t be discounted.
I’ll take a chance on the Donald McCain trained Federici who’s yet to be out of the first six on his three attempts over the fences. He finished fifth in the Becher off ten-pounds higher last season when Donald’s horses weren’t firing on all cylinders. He’s got a lovely racing weight and looks value.
Selection: Federici – E/W