Day One of the Sandown ‘Tingle Creek’ meeting takes place this afternoon with a competitive, if unspectacular card of six races.
The only Graded race is at 2.30, when the Ballymore Novices Hurdle is run, with 8 promising youngsters fighting it out over 2m4f of the Esher track.
Favourite at 2-1is the Nicky Henderson trained On The Blind Side, last seen doing us a big favour by winning another in this Ballymore series at Cheltenham 3 weeks ago. OTBS stormed up the hill to win going away on that occasion, in the manner of a really good stayer and its trainer, not given to over-optimism, has already got the Albert Bartlett in his sights. The downside is that the horse picked up a 5lbs penalty for that victory and therefore has to give weight to all bar one of its rivals, most of which possess oodles of potential.
Much as we loath giving this race a miss for betting purposes, we are going to be content just to watch, wait and see and restrict our bets to other races on the card.
At 1.55, the MS Amlin Insurance Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase takes place, which brings us to the headline selection.
Jonjo O’Neill’s 6-y-o Lithic (from the Greek for ‘made of stone’) is the beast in question, available to back at 11-4.
Twice a winner over hurdles earlier this year, Lithic has just two runs over fences to its name, finishing third in both and shaping as if a win was imminent. The addition of cheekpieces and with Aiden Coleman up top presages a maiden win over the ‘big ‘uns’ and let’s hope ‘tis so.
The Amateurs take centre stage in the opener at 12.50, a handicap chase over 3m and Pickamix is quite a short price at 5-2 to take this under our old ‘friend’ Sam Waley-Cohen. With just three tries over fences, it’s possible the unforgiving nature of Sandown’s chase configuration may find the horse and jockey out and we much prefer the chances of Shanroe Santos, available at 4-1.
10 runs have yielded two victories, including one over course and distance as recently as March this year, yet Shanroe is only 1 lb higher today. Looked to be coming back to its best last time out, so we look to Mikey Legg to do the biz this afternoon.
The Tokio Marine Kiln Handicap Chase over the minimum trip at 3.05 has a spelling mistake and the ‘dead eight’ runners and we hope it stays that way (that’s the ‘dead eight’, not the spelling of ‘Tokio’).
9-4 Favourite for this is Peter Bowen’s Beggar’s Wishes, which made a winning chase debut on seasonal reappearance at Sedgefield at the beginning of last month. The form of that race is working out quite well and, with James Bowen’s 5lb allowance all but obviating the six pound rise, what’s not to like? Well, I’ll tell you – firstly, Sedgefield ain’t Sandown – the tracks couldn’t be more different. Secondly, Beggar’s Wishes’ record going left-handed is 3-2-12, whilst its record going right-handed is – er, actually it’s never run this way round. Whether that anomaly is the result of a definite policy I know not, but it’s enough of an imponderable for the Spanish Archer to come into play.
The bet in this race is Red Devil Star each way at 11-2. Third in this race a year ago, RDS ran a sound prelim 3 weeks ago and is the value bet under Jack Sherwood.
The proceedings close at 3.35 with the MS Amlin Insurance Novices’ Handicap Hurdle and we suggest top and tailing this race with a bet on the top and the bottom weight. Cap Du Nord is at the bottom and has all the appearance of a ‘plot’ jobby, so back it to win at 100-30.
Bazooka is at the top and this improving Flat racer can be backed each way at 16-1 to give David Flood his first ever jumps winner.
C’est tout – we return with the ‘Tingle’ tomorrow.
Lithic 1.55 Sandown win @ 11-4
Shanroe Santos 12.50 Sandown win @ 4-1
Red Devil Star 3.05 Sandown each way @ 11-2
Cap Du Nord 3.35 Sandown win @ 100-30
Bazooka 3.35 Sandown each way @ 16-1