Nothing is more certain in racing to get the juices flowing than the sight of the best two mile chasers in the land doing battle over the unforgiving Sandown fences and that’s what we have to look forward to at 3.00 this afternoon in the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase.
Except that the best two mile chaser hasn’t turned up. Willie Mullins has decided on a different route for Douvan and sends Un De Sceaux as first reserve and it says something about the strength in depth of the yard that his charge has been installed as the 15-8 favourite.
This horse’s latest two runs, back in May and June were over hurdles in France, where it was soundly beaten in the second one, finishing 15 lengths behind Ptit Zig and with due respect to Paul Nicholls’ charge, that just aint good enough. Before that, Un De Sceaux had been thrashed by Sprinter Sacre in the Bet365 Celebration Chase, over this course and distance, with Sire De Grugy even farther behind and both trainers blamed the lack of ‘proper’ soft ground for their respective defeats.
Well, I have news – it’s not ‘proper’ soft ground today, either.
Gary Moore nominated Ar Mad as Sire De Grugy’s successor last season and there is little doubt that the 6-y-o has the potential to hit the heights. Any horse that raises its official rating by 44lbs in less than ten months could be classed as a bit of an improver(!) and although a mark of 157 shouldn’t be enough, the sky could be the limit this season for a horse that was set to contest The Arkle before injury intervened. Throw in a perfect two from two over this course and distance and what’s not to like.
Now we come to the enigma that is God’s Own. In the space of 18 days in April, this Tom George trained 8-y-o won the Grade 1 Melling Chase at Aintree and the Irish Champion Chase at Punchestown, achieving a rating of 166 in the process. Now this is where I get confused: After the Aintree win, the trainer said: “God’s Own is not easy and is better going left handed”. Fast forward to Punchestown after which the trainer said: “We knew going right-handed today would be a big help – he´s probably 7lb or 8lb better going that way “
Erm – so which is it, Tom?
Whichever way it is, God’s Own will have to brush up its jumping round Sandown, as its two previous runs have resulted in a fall and a 22 length defeat after numerous errors. In compensation, though, the Admirable Adrian takes over in the plate, which will definitely help.
Suggestion is to stick with the NKOTB Ar Mad at a very fair 4-1, in the hope that his exuberant leaping will unsettle everything else, but, for safety, have a saver on God’s Own in case it remembers which way round it likes to go.