NATIONAL Hunt racing fans are in for a real treat tomorrow with high quality televised action from both Sandown and Aintree, with two races over the historic National fences.
Sizing Europe, the reigning Champion Chaser, is a warm order for the Sportingbet Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown (3.05pm) and is now as short as 13/8 with the sponsors for the Grade One contest. Henry De Bromhead’s nine-year-old is a dual Cheltenham Festival winner and both of those wins have been over this minimum trip of two miles.
The only real concerns are that he can throw in the occasional below-par performance and has never raced at Sandown before. Now, there is no reason to think he won’t handle the track, it’s just he’ll have to be on his ‘A’ game to reel in likely pace-setter WISHFULL THINKING.
Regular readers of this column will know that I advised backing Philip Hobbs’ runner at 25/1 a few weeks ago for the Champion Chase and he’ll be a hell of a lot shorter for that two-mile crown if successful tomorrow. The question is whether he’ll have the necessary pace to cope with the half mile drop back in trip, but I’m confident he’s got the aggressive manner and tactical speed to cope.
He can be backed at 4/1 in places and could represent a decent back-to-lay proposition for Betdaq in-running traders if winning the early duel for the lead with Tataniano. Paul Nicholls’ fragile chaser still has a lot to prove at this level and may not be comfortable if he doesn’t get to the front.
The Betfred Becher Chase (2.10pm) is the feature race of the day over at Aintree and it’s hard to be confident as you need plenty of luck over the National fences. The two I’m most interested in are the Irish raiders at the top and bottom of the weights.
Dessie Hughes knows how to get one ready for this famous Grand National trial having won two of the last three renewals and he looks set to rely on former Grade One Chase winner RARE BOB. The stable’s Vic Venturi carried top weight round here two years ago and these fences could easily bring the best out of Rare Bob. He’s a hugely talented chaser on his day and if he enjoys himself, he may take some pegging back.
If he is to be reeled in, it may well be by the in-form Noel Meade’s ANOTHER PALM, who looks a progressive chaser still running from what could prove to be a lenient mark. He’ll have no problem with the trip or ground and ran an eye-catching second to Uncle Junior at last season’s Punchestown Festival. The two runs he’s already had this campaign would have put him spot on for tomorrow’s assignment.
I’ve had a good word for the Nicky Henderson-trained MASTER OF THE HALL who hopefully runs in tomorrow’s Betfred Bonus Chase (2.45pm). He has apparently been working the house down at Seven Barrows and should get the small field he needs.
Finally, don’t miss INCENTIVISE in today’s Devon Marathon at Exeter (1.30pm). He loves a slog in the mud and can land this off top weight with the useful Jake Greenhall taking off 5lb.
You can follow me on Twitter @BillEsdaile.
INCENTIVISE e/w 1.30pm Exeter (today)
ANOTHER PALM e/w 2.10pm Aintree (tomorrow)
RARE BOB e/w 2.10pm Aintree (tomorrow)
MASTER OF THE HALL 2.45pm Aintree (tomorrow)
WISHFULL THINKING 3.05pm Sandown (tomorrow)