THERE may be no Sprinter Sacre or Sire De Grugy in tomorrow’s 888sport Tingle Creek (3.00pm), but Sandown Park is still set to stage a mouth-watering renewal of the Grade One two-mile contest.
Alan King saddles favourite Balder Succes who is sure to strip much fitter than on his seasonal reappearance last month. The six-year-old has got his act together since disappointing in the Henry VIII Novices’ chase on this very card 12 months ago and finished off last season by winning at Aintree and being narrowly denied at Punchestown.
However, it’s the horse that beat him in Ireland that day, and again at Exeter last time, that makes the most appeal from a betting point of view. GOD’S OWN may be seven pounds worse off at the weights with Balder Succes on that latest run, but he did manage to beat King’s charge at Punchestown off level weights before that.
There was only three-quarters of a length between them at the line that day and the truth is that there is unlikely to be much between them again. For that reason, I’d far rather side with Tom George’s charge at 4/1, than Balder Succes at half those odds.
As for the rest, it’s not hard to envisage Oscar Whisky running well, particularly if more rain arrives as that will switch the emphasis away from speed and onto stamina. There has been plenty of money for Vukovar in recent days and he could well be anything, but now looks too short at 7/1.
If you plan to visit Sandown, and you are travelling by train, look out for the horse-drawn carriages that will be running people from the station to the racecourse. Father Christmas will be handing out presents to young racegoers in his grotto and keeping in the festive spirit. There will also be carols after racing.
Over at Aintree, a whopping field of 25 have been declared to tackle the Becher Chase (1.30pm) over Aintree’s famous Grand National fences. Last year’s winner Chance Du Roy will surely go well again for the in-form Hobbs team, but my eye is drawn to two dangerously well-handicapped runners.
SAINT ARE ran well when third at Cheltenham last time and has remarkably been dropped two pounds for that run. His only two career wins to date have come at Aintree and he looks a big player at 14/1 with Unibet.
THE PACKAGE finished behind Saint Are last time, but he’s another who is back to his last winning mark and is too big each-way at 25/1 with Star Sports.
SAINT ARE e/w 1.30pm Aintree (tomorrow)
THE PACKAGE e/w 1.30pm Aintree (tomorrow)
GOD’S OWN 3.00pm Sandown (tomorrow)