With both Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy, resting up after injuries, Saturday’s Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown feels a bit like a tennis Grand Slam without Djokovic and Nadal. The winner will have to do something extraordinary to be compared favourably with the last two winners of the two-mile Champion Chase, who connections hope will recover in time to face each other at Cheltenham in March.
But in their absence Balder Succes and the novice God’s Own are two exciting youngsters who might conceivably be champions one day.
In the meantime they are already established rivals, having met three times this year, most recently when God’s Own beat Balder Succes at Exeter last month. That made the score 2-1 to God’s Own (3.00 Sandown) and although he enjoyed a weight advantage, Tom George’s six-year-old won convincingly and, officially still a novice, perhaps has scope for the greater improvement.
Balder Succes will be ridden by Richard Johnson, who has been enjoying a golden autumn run. But it all turned sour on Friday when the Exeter stewards banned him for 12 days for taking the wrong course, a suspension that will rule him out of the whole Christmas and New Year period.
A record field of 25 will line up for the Becher Chase at Aintree this afternoon and previous positive experience of the Grand National fences will be invaluable among the inevitable hurly-burly.
Chance Du Roy (1.30 Aintree) won this race last year and is primed for a repeat by Philip Hobbs, who can do little wrong at the moment, while Oscar Time, twice placed in the Grand National in 2011 and last year, stands out among the outsiders.
The Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown and the Becher Chase at Aintree are live on Channel 4 Racing on Saturday.Reuse content