A cracking entry for the Tingle Creek on Saturday December 9th at Sandown, although the race was reopened before reaching its current total of 10 entrants.
Understandably, all will be running scared of the magnificent Altior who will win this if turning up in top form and having a trouble free round. But I suspect that come the day there might be just five or six runners in all.
Mullins has three entries – Min, Un De Sceaux and Great Field – but each of them have other entries over the weekend and I’m not so sure Mullins will relish taking on Altior anymore than the other trainers will.
The going will play its part and I just wonder if Sceau Royal, a horse I like immensely, will be allowed to take his chance if the ground is really soft. Andrew Cooper, clerk of the course at Sandown expects the track to be riding ‘at the softer end of the going scale’, and, if the weather forecast is correct, the ground will be at least soft imo.
Sceau Royal has won in easy ground but such going can blunt his zestful, confident fencing. Having said that, he has no other current entries and I expect to see him there.
Saint Calvados, who would have taken Footpad’s scalp had that one not fallen last time, will get his ground and I can see him turning up. But he will be underpriced, I think. Footpad simply didn’t run his race last time (suffered an over-reach, possibly early in the race) and, on ratings, Saint Calvados was well entitled to beat the others the way he did.
He smashed his way onto the scene with an electric display of front running at Warwick last season and I’m not so sure the value of that form holds up. Saint Calvados was well beaten at the festival although he went hell for leather until running out of steam at the top of the hill.
If Un De Sceaux turned up in a big enough field, I’d happily back him each way. But by the time Mullins has decided, the field size will be quite a bit smaller, I think, destroying the each way value. And Un De Sceaux has two other entries over the weekend, both at home.
Special Tiara, Gino Trail and God’s Own (now that one has caused me some heartache!) are arguably past it now in this grade. And that leaves Speredek.
Regular punters will remember Speredek for his running style alone. He blazes off in front and, after four fences at Ascot last time out, had a big field of chasers strung out like post-race festival goers making their weary way home.
He was caught on the run in by Caid Du Lin to whom he was giving 12lbs. He matched his best Racing Post Rating that day of 161, achieved last January when 2nd to Un De Sceaux.
The going is a vital factor for Speredek too; he needs it soft and he prefers going right handed (he is 2 from 3 at Sandown). He has an entry at Huntingdon on Sunday over half a mile farther (also right handed), but if the BBC weather forecast is correct, he is much more likely to get his ground at Sandown where finishing 2nd will net connections just £6,000 short of finishing 1st at Huntingdon.
So, there is the reasoning; he is likely to turn up, likely to get his ground, the anticipated small field will make it easier for him to hold on and get a place in the first three, garnering a payout at 10/1 for the place part of your bet. And if for any reason Altior doesn’t turn up or run to form, you’ll have even more fun watching Speredek.
The race will be worth watching for Altior alone. He has looked to be running ever more lazily, almost as though he is bored with the business of two-mile chasing (I’d love to see him in the King George). His jockey Nico De Boinville claims his Queen Mother Champion Chase run in March (he traded at over 7/1 in running) was on the worst ground the horse has faced, and that he hated it. But Altior was a little tardy the previous time at Newbury and arguably worse than he was at Cheltenham when winning his final race of the season at Sandown.
It’ll be fascinating to see how he runs here, especially behind such a scorching pacemaker as Speredek. Saint Calvados also like to make all, but I think they’ll submit to Speredek from the start to avoid another gun battle over the first half dozen.
If you decide to have an each way bet, be careful that your chosen bookmakers offers 1/5th odds the first 3. A few are offering first two only in anticipation of a small field.
Remember tha risks associated with antepost bets like the one recommended; if your selection does not run on the day, your stake is lost.