There’s high-class National Hunt action from both Sandown (Tingle Creek Chase) and Aintree (Becher Chase) this Saturday, and we’ve got horse racing tips for both of the big races.
Tingle Creek Chase
There have been some brilliant winners of what is arguably the second most prestigious 2-mile chase in Britain, after the Queen Mother Champion Chase, including Kauto Star and Master Minded.
Indeed, their trainer Paul Nicholls dominated the race between 2005 and 2010, winning it with three horses that all won it twice.
The last two winners, Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy both went on to win the following year’s Champion Chase, whilst 2011 winner Sizing Europe had won the previous season’s Cheltenham showpiece.
Three 5-year-olds, two 6-year-olds and three 7-year-olds have won in the last decade, whilst established top-class chasers Moscow Flyer and Sizing Europe won respectively at the ages of 10 and 9.
This year’s ratings and betting are currently headed by Balder Succes, but there are some strong reasons for opposing Alan King’s runner. He’s been put in his place by likely second favourite God’s Own the last twice they’ve met, and I think God’s Own is the horse on a steeper upward curve. Balder Succes also only managed to finish 5th of 6th on his only Sandown run, a race won by another of his rivals here Hinterland.
Hinterland is in fact a very interesting runner as he has Sandown form of 2/1/1 but may prefer good ground, as may Paul Nicholls other runner Dodging Bullets.
Of the others, Oscar Whiskey is two from two at the course and Somersby has finished runner-up to both Sanctuaire and Sire De Grugy and could make the frame. Third Intention, Pepite Rose and William’s Wishes look too exposed, but 5-year-old Vukovar could be a big improver this year.
I’ve been really impressed with God’s Own on his last two runs and I can’t really see why Balder Succes is shorter in the betting, whilst I’ll have a saver on Vukovar who has been well-backed in the week and for whom Davy Russell is a really interesting jockey booking.
3 points God’s Own @ 4/1
1 point Vukovar @ 8/1
In 22 runnings of the Becher Chase 16 winners have carried 10-12 or less, including the last four winners. Four of the other six winners carried top-weight, whilst the other two winners that carried 11-5 and 11-7 had previously won graded chases.
Two 7-year-olds are the joint youngest winners, with four 8-year-olds, six 9-year-olds, five 10-year-olds, one 11-year-old, three 12-year-olds and one 14-year-old being victorious.
Nigel Twiston-Davies has trained five winners (including two of the last four), whilst Paul Nicholls has trained three of the last ten.
Sam Twiston-Davies rode both of his father’s last two winners, but no other current jockey has ridden the winner more than once.
Two winners have gone onto win the Grand National, both three years later.
Only 8 of the 25 runners are set to carry less than 11-0 and, whilst they all fit the required age bracket, I’m happy to narrow it down to two runners.
Two-and-a-half years may be a long time in horse racing, but that’s when Sainte Are recorded his second Aintree victory (one regulation fences, one hurdles), but he’s been tumbling down the weights since and ran okay at Cheltenham last time, a course where he’d never previously been a factor.
Second up is Benbens for Nigel Twiston-Davies who, after being difficult to keep right, has gone from strength to strength in 2014 and could be ready for this exacting test over the National fences.
1 point each-way Saint Are @ 14/1
1 point each-way Benbens @ 16/1