Sire primed to reign again in Tingle
Former two-mile champion can show old sparkle and sink 'Vibrato'
Simonsig last night belatedly joined his fellow rejuvenated stablemate Sprinter Sacre and the nascent Un De Sceaux as a Betfair Tingle Creek Chase casualty.
The Sandown two-miler feature had promised so much even prior to Simonsig being found to be lame. Left standing now are the 2013 winner Sire De Grugy and the two-time runner-up Somersby, whose peerless rider Nina Carberry will be striving to secure an historic first Grade One win over jumps for a female jockey.
Last year's Henry VIII Novices' Chase victor Vibrato Valtat is one of two seeking to give Paul Nicholls a tenth Tingle Creek success, while Henry de Bromhead's Special Tiara is another course and distance Grade One winner.
It isn't a bad race, but it is hardly the event it might have been, nor what you would expect of a race of such immense prestige.Notwithstanding Nicholls' incredible record, the favourite Vibrato Valtat is opposable on the basis that he is trading at very short odds and has still to prove that he has the stomach for this level. That may seem slightly harsh, but he did struggle when he was stepped up in class last term.
Sire De Grugy and Special Tiara are the two to keep on side, although the absence of a full each-way return on the first three now that the field is reduced to seven diminishes the place market considerably.
Incidentally, even prior to Simonsig's withdrawal, Sire De Grugy and Special Tiara were the top-rated runners with marks of 166 and 168. Both have disappointing reappearances to overcome here. Significantly, though, they recovered from sub-par runs to win on their second starts last season, and they also have exquisite Sandown records.
In the Celebration Chase two years ago, Sire De Grugy was able to capitalise when Special Tiara tired. There is little doubt that Special Tiara is a better horse now, but, on slow ground, he could still be rendered vulnerable late on.
With that in mind, Sire De Grugy is preferred for the win. The 2014 Champion Chase winner is unbeaten in three starts at the Esher venue, twice in Grade Ones and the other in a Grade Two.
On his Exeter return behind Vibrato Valtat at Exeter, he didn't run nearly as badly as the form suggests, as he blundered desperately at the first ditch. He got back into the race but tired from the last, after which he was eased. Today, Sire De Grugy is 10lbs better off with Vibrato Valtat and Gary Moore, who saddled three winners at the track yesterday, seems convinced that his stable star has turned a corner.
At odds of 5/1, then, there is value about his son Jamie's mount validating that theory.
At Aintree, Don Poli is 10/11 to beat Many Clouds, Menorah and Southfield Theatre.
We don't put forward too many odds-on shots here, but, with conditions in his favour, those odds seem generous about Willie Mullins' RSA victor.
Bryan Cooper could also take the Becher Chase on Sandra Hughes' Thunder And Roses.
The Jim Dreaper-trained Goonyella heads the market, but he has to give weight to the Irish Grand National winner, which appeals as being the better horse with scope to progress further.