Tingle Creek day at Sandown this afternoon, with the eponymous race taking place at 2.55.
Just six runners go to post, vying for the £85,425 first prize and the analysis of this race can be mercifully brief. In the absence of the (once) mighty Douvan, barring accidents, Fox Norton will win it. However, at a best price 8-13 this is not a betting proposition, so just watch and enjoy.
The rest of the card, however, has thrown up some decent opportunities and we will cover the last race first, to clarify the headline.
The Betfair London National at 3.30 has attracted a probable field of 10 (two are doubly declared) and the bookies are going 4-1 the field, with Doing Fine heading the market at that price.
This dour stayer finished 5th in the bet365 Gold Cup over course and distance last April, keeping on up the unforgiving Sandown hill to be beaten only 2 lengths. However, that was off a mark of 129 and today it has to run off 137 and is badly in with two horses which also contested the same race. Benbens finished 4th, over a length ahead of Doing Fine and is now no less than 13lbs better off and Sugar Baron, which finished fractionally behind the Mulholland horse has a pull of 5 lbs.
At the risk of being ‘ageist’, Benbens is now 12 rising 13 and its battered legs may not carry it up the hill so our recommended bet in this race is the Nicky Henderson trained Sugar Baron, each way at 11-2. A recent run at Cheltenham, when it finished with a rattle into second, will have put it spot on for today and the application of blinkers will (hopefully) help it to travel into the race.
The Mares Handicap Hurdle at 12.40 has the dreaded ‘dead eight’ runners and the favourite is another Neil Mulholland trained runner in the form of the beautifully named (not) The Wicket Chicken at 7-2. This 5-y-o has mopped up 3 Novice hurdles during summer jumping and makes her handicap debut off 114 after a break of 146 days, but, with a bit of neck-sticking-out, we opine that ‘summer jumpers’ do not win ‘proper’ races at Grade 1 tracks. Our suggestion, at a palatable 15-2, is an each way punt on All My Love, trained by Pam Sly. Fit from the Flat (rating 81) this young lady gave 13lbs to a 129 rated hurdler back in March and was beaten less than 3 lengths, so today’s mark of 118 looks, to say the least, workable.
The other handicap hurdle on the card is the Jumeirah Hotels And Resorts Listed event at 2.20, which has co-favourites of 3 at 9-2. One of those is the unlucky Fidux, which unseated at the last when coming to win its race last time out over this course and distance. Just 2 lbs higher today, Fidux must be a win selection to gain compensation.
Also in this race, we recommend an each way bet on Exitas, trained by Phil Middleton. Better known as a chaser these days, this 9-y-o has a course and distance victory to its name off a higher mark than today and competes off an 8lb lower hurdles rating than it has achieved in winning 3 chases since September. The 10-1 available looks a great each way investment.
Sugar Baron 3.30 Sandown (each-way @ 11-2 with SkyBet 4 places)
All My Love 12.40 Sandown (each-way @ 15-2 with bet365 ¼ odds)
Fidux 2.20 Sandown (win @ 11-2 with William Hill)
Exitas 2.20 Sandown (each-way @ 10-1 with PaddyPower 4 places)