Sizing class to sink new kauto
BRITISH champion trainer Paul Nicholls knows a thing or two about the Tingle Creek at Sandown (3.05) and if his horse takes the Grade One chase today, it will be the Ditcheat handler's seventh straight victory.
He also won this contest in 1999 and 2002, but arguably the most important success in the race was in 2005, as it saw an exciting new chaser break through the ranks, namely Kauto Star.
It's interesting to read Nicholls' post-race comments back then with the benefit of hindsight -- although it was clear that he knew he had a special horse on his hands: "He's only five... he jumps well enough. Now that he's done that, we won't have to run him for the sake of it. He's a proper horse."
Proper horse, indeed! Nicholls' runner today happens to be a half-brother to Kauto Star and Kauto Stone was fairly impressive at Down Royal last time when taking a Grade Two chase. While the five-year-old looks exciting, I've a feeling that some people will back him because of his famous relation rather than his record and, as such, 7/2 doesn't look particularly generous.
His backers should keep an eye on the ground, as he likes a bit of mud and, at the moment, the going is described as good to soft.
Stablemate Tataniano was also entered and had serious claims based on his reappearance when taking a decent handicap at Chepstow. But he picked up an injury late this week, so Nicholls withdrew him yesterday afternoon, which means Ruby Walsh will now take the reins on Kauto Stone.
The vote though, goes to 2011 Champion Chase winner Sizing Europe, priced around 6/4.
Regular readers may remember me tipping Henry de Bromhead's nine-year-old at 7/2 in the Jnwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal, in which he was pipped near the post by Quito De La Roque.
At one stage, he looked like he had it in the bag and traded at 1/3 mid-race, but he was running on empty in the last few yards and the winner deserved the prize.
Previously, he was lucky to take a Grade Two chase at Gowran as Rubi Light fell at the last, but he still retains plenty of ability and it's worth remembering that he has a great record as a raider across the water.
De Bromhead said he had a tough race at Down Royal, but he's recovered well at home and they are happy to let him take his chances. Good ground would help and while I've no doubt that this will be a close affair, he has enough class to shade it by a small margin, most likely at the expense of Wishfull Thinking.
At 12/1 or thereabouts, it's worth taking a chance on Swing Bill in the Becher Chase at Aintree (2.10). The 10-year-old is in top shape this season and his third place in a tricky handicap at Ascot in his latest outing was impressive, considering he was under a penalty.
1.55 Sandown: Al Ferof
2.10 Aintree: Swing Bill (e/w)
3.05 Sandown: Sizing Europe
LAST WEEK'S WINNERS
Last weekend proved profitable for the Betting Ring with three winners from four horses. Overturn came home at 7/4, Carruthers landed the Hennessey at 10/1 and Haaf A Sixpence was a short-priced winner at 8/13. The other selection, Circuitous, is probably still running.