The Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown 3pm is no less a race for Douvan’s absence and Willie Mullins can win it with stable-mate Un de Sceaux.
It’s an open contest though and for a horse that usually tanks along anyway, Un de Sceaux will be very fresh having not run since June. The presence of Ar Mad means he won’t have it all his own way up front and Gary Moore’s runner might just upset him going down the back straight at Sandown.
Ar Mad put up some performance last year in the Racing Post Novices Chase (that Altior, below, runs in earlier on Saturday) proving he can jump around Sandown at speed. And that’s crucial. The big worry is that he hasn’t raced since February.
Stablemate Sire De Grugy is more or less a course specialist, winning four of his five chases at this track. Un de Sceaux was ahead of him that time when both finished behind Sprinter Sacre last April, but his win at Ascot last month showed he still retains some sparkle.
God’s Own will appreciate a return to decent ground and a right-handed track. I’d be more confident about Un De Sceaux if the ground was soft or heavy, but I can see him grinding it out up the Sandown hill to win.
If Altior had stayed over hurdles he’d be a leading player in the Champion Hurdle. I watched him closely on his chase debut at Kempton and I’d have no qualms about him jumping around Sandown in the Racing Post Novice Chase @ 1.55pm, where the fences will be as big a test as the opposition.
He’ll need to win well to justify his place at the top of the Arkle betting next March and I hope he does. I won’t be steaming in at the prices on Saturday though.
You’ll want a good ground horse on Saturday as they were watering at Aintree the other day and I’m not sure that will suit one of the market leaders, Ucello Conti. Gordon Elliott thinks he’s a potential Grand National winner and ran sixth in it last year behind Rule the World.
I can’t see The Young Master being fully wound up for this race on his seasonal bow, but he’s definitely one to keep onside for next April.
Viconte Du Noyer represents the in-form Colin Tizzard team and he’s been mopping up the Saturday races. He beat Minella Rocco last time at Cheltenham when grinding it out and I really fancy that one to win the Listed race on this card later.
For me, The Last Samurai has nothing to hide here as he’s 10lbs higher than when second in the Grand National last season, so doesn’t have to worry about being hammered by the handicapper for next year’s race if he wins here.
He’s the selection and I’d give Sizing Coal an each-way squeak off a nice weight.
There’s a lot of handicaps and the drying ground will suit decent flat racer Leoncavallo at Aintree 2.10pm. It’s not ideal that he got bumped up 5lb when he finished second to Sceau Royal, but he should hit the places at least.
I’m torn between two Nicky Henderson horses in the handicap hurdle at Sandown 2.25pm but I’m going to give Brain Power the nod over Consul De Thaix as the race could suit him better.
Bennys Mist and Seventh Sky finished first and second in the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase (3.15pm) last year over the national fences at Aintree but the ground is a lot quicker this time.
Seveth Sky has a definite each-way chance again. However, the one I really like is Paul Nicholls’ As De Mee to give Dame Judy Dench a winner round the Grand National fences. He jumped brilliantly in the Topham Chase last April, is in better form now and races off a lower mark.
The lucky last at Sandown (3.30pm) will, I hope, be Court By Surprise‘s chance to avenge his defeat here last month. He has such a good record around Sandown that you have to give him a squeak every time he runs here.