This is the most wonderful time of the year for jumps racing fans, with a huge amount of top class prizes to come over the holidays, but the lead up to Christmas sees plenty of top class racing in its own right and today is one of the highlights of the season so far with two seasonal highlights.
We start at Sandown, where the two mile chasers will take centre stage. The Henry VIII Novices’ Chase (1.50) brings together a number of young Arkle contenders but it could be that the oldest horse in the race is the value bet. So much was expected of Summerville Boy after his Supreme Novices’ Hurdle win last season, but a dire campaign saw him well beaten on all four occasions.
That campaign was partly sidelined due to a hairline fracture found in his off-hind leg after performances in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle and the International Hurdle at Cheltenham, and it’s no surprise that he didn’t show his best at any point during the season. He’d always looked like he could be more of a chaser, and he didn’t disappoint on his chasing debut when he got the better of the useful First Flow at Uttoxeter. He didn’t jump so well that day but finished very strongly after the last (just as he did over hurdles) which suggests that he’s back to something like this best, and
For all that the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle he won was a slog, the form of it reads very well through Kalashnikov, who had a fine novice chase season, and that’s some of the best bare form on offer here over either hurdles or fences. The young guns will take some passing, with Torpillo an impressive winner on his chasing debut, Nube Negra clearly better over the bigger obstacles and Grand Sancy having done well to push Fusil Raffles so close in the Elite Hurdle, but Summerville Boy is lightly raced for his age and can go very close.
In the Tingle Creek itself (3.00), Defi Du Seuil can win his rematch with Politologue once again and confirm himself as the country’s leading two-mile chaser. The two had a tooth-and-nail duel in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham when Defi Du Seuil asserted strongly in what became a sprint around the home turn, after giving the 2017 winner of this race a small start around the home turn. Defi Du Seuil is 3lbs worse off today, but he ought to get much more pace to aim at with a field of eight rather than just four and that should suit him if he comes from behind once again. There’s not going to be much to separate the two once again, and this could be a race that’s best enjoyed.
Un De Secaux, an awesome winner of the Champion Chase at Punchestown when last seen, appears to be ageless but he will have to return at the very top of his game if he’s to add yet another Grade 1 to his collection. The progressive Janika, who was impressive when beating Dolos comprehensively (gave 5lbs) in the Haldon Gold Cup is of interest here, and Sceaux Royal, who was a good third in the Champion Chase and then a fair second in the Celebration Chase, should be respected as well.
It will be fascinating to see how Waiting Patiently, who has so often been kept off the track by injury, runs here back over 2 miles.
Tingle Creek & Becher Chase
Saturday 7th December
From Sandown and Aintree
Live on ITV HD & Racing TV HD
At Aintree, there’s another quality card with two races over the National fences and a quality four runner affair. We’ll look into that later, but the main betting focus has to be on the Becher Chase (1.30).
One of the prime trials for the National, it often turns into a strong early season test especially with the ground often softer than it would be for the big day itself. It’s often a race that suits those who have plenty of experience (nine out of the last ten winners were aged eight or older, with 13 or more chase starts under their belts) and those with previous experience over the fences (eight out of the last ten winners) have always done well.
One For Arthur is of course, a previous winner of the National itself, and whilst he’s 10 years old having missed a season thanks to injury, he’s lightly raced for one of his age. He’s run just four times since romping home in the 2017 Grand National, with two of those being unseats, but he went very well in last year’s national until tying up late on, and he shaped very nicely in a Limited Handicap on his return at Kelso.
That suggests he retains a fair amount of ability despite the injury, and we know that he can handle ground with plenty of cut, as well as the fences, so the 8/1 on him here is tempting for what might well have been his long term target.
Several horses made it onto the longlist, but Le Breuil is the second recommended horse. A much younger contender than most winners, he was one of only two horses who were really left standing at the end of the gruelling four-miler at Cheltenham this year. That was his first try at an extreme test so if he’s on his game, few should be finishing more strongly and as a horse whose versatile with ground and who also has the services of Jamie Codd, he appeals as being overpriced.
The rest of the card is an excellent one, with the highlight being the four runner Many Clouds Chase (2.40) featuring Native River, Might Bite, Black Corton and Outlander. It should be a fascinating contest, but the market looks to have things about right there.
RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK Summervile Boy 1 pt win in 1.50 Sandown at 3/1 with starsports.bet
BACK One For Arthur 1 pt each/way in 1.30 Aintree at 8/1 with starsports.bet
BACK Le Breuil 1 pt each/way in 1.30 Aintree at 22/1 with starsports.bet
PROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 1 2017: PROFIT 220.68 points
(excluding Political Bets posted 8 August and 23 Nov, Premier League ante-post, Cameron Brown football bets)