Punters are tingling with anticipation of the clash between the brilliant Arkle winner Sprinter Sacre and front running Sanctuaire in the Grade One Tingle Creek at Sandown today
This mouth-watering contest has been much awaited with both horses making their seasonal reappearances in the two mile chase. The tactics are clear Sanctuaire will bowl out in front with the intention of drawing out the sting of the mighty Sprinter Sacre. Nicholls claims that Sanctuaire is one of the best he has ever trained as a novice whilst Henderson’s charge’s demolition of a quality Arkle field last March speaks volumes. On the twittersphere talk has been of any each way value in the race with Kumbeshwar at 33/1 put up by some pundits. Let’s be frank though the others form in the race should not touch the front two in the market. Crockford believes that the stand out horse has to be Sprinter Sacre with only one slight doubt that the ground may be against him given, the fact he was pulled out of the Open meeting at Cheltenham due to ground concerns.
To add to the quality on show in the Tingle Creek racegoers at Sandown will also be treated to the second chasing run of the impressive Captain Conan who should easily have the beating of his rivals in the novice chase.
The Becher and Grand Sefton Chases over the National fences look hot contests and certainly the Becher Chase is the most competitive and quality renewal in years. The National hero Ballabriggs makes his seasonal debut in the Becher but will face tough opposition in the form of last year’s winner West End Rocker and the Nicholls stayer Join Together. The classy Irish performer Quito De La Roque also makes an interesting Aintree visit in the chase over the Mildmay fences, where he looks well placed to win.
Crockford’s Dead Cert – Cannington Brook (2.05 Chepstow)
Crockford likes this games horse who today runs against much weaker opposition than his last outing in the Grade One Betfair Chase where he was not disgraced. He will relish the heavy conditions and looks the certainty for the day at Chepstow.
Crockford’s Whisper – Ballabriggs e/w (2.10 Aintree)
The 2010 Grand National winner ran well last year in the big race and will be lit up again by a return to the special fences. No doubt today is a strong contest but McCain will have him right for a bold effort in the big chase today.
Archer’s Selection – Captain Conan (1.55 Sandown)
Archer would have relished a ride round Sandown on Sprinter Sacre but he certainly also would not have missed the talent of Henderson’s novice Captain Conan and would have been as eager to take that ride in the valuable Grade One Henry VIII Novice’s Chase.
Crockford’s other gambles around the courses this afternoon:
Sandown – Kentford Grey Lady (12.55), Sam Winner (1.25), Captain Conan (1.55), Petit Robin (2.30), Sprinter Sacre (3.05) and Golan Way (3.40)
Aintree – Jonny Delta (12.00), Boonga Roogeta (12.35), Quito De La Roque (1.05), Explained (1.35), Ballabriggs e/w (2.10), Awaywiththegreys (2.45) and Little Josh (3.20).
Chepstow – Rendl Beach (12.25), Cannington Brook (2.05), Rangitoto (2.40) and Artic Ben (3.15)
Navan – Bonisland (1.20), Karabak e/w (1.50), Oscars Well (2.25) and Marasonnien (3.00)
Lingfield – Hepworth (2.15) and Egretta (2.50)
Wetherby – Aland Islands (12.45)
(Featured Photograph – Paul Nicholls by Stuart Rice)
(Photograph – Captain Conan at the Open Meeting by Stuart Rice)