An absolute humdinger of a racing weekend begins with a vintage Tingle Creek (14.55) at Sandown Park and the return of the Grand National winner Noble Yeats to Aintree in the Many Clouds Chase (1.30).
Jumps cards come from Aintree, Chepstow, Sandown and Wetherby in the UK, while ante-post Supreme Novices’ Hurdle favourite Facile Vega goes hurdling for the first time at Fairyhouse. Following it all up is an evening all-weather card from Wolverhampton.
Our Saturday fancies include a redemptive win for Shishkin in the big race at Sandown.
- Sandown 14.55 – Shishkin @ 11/10
- Sandown 15.30 – Revels Hill @ 7/4
- Aintree 12.55 – Dixon Cove @ 11/8
- Aintree 14.05 – Percussion @ 14/1
SHISHKIN (11/10) is top-rated heading into the Tingle Creek (14.55) and were it not for the fact he was pulled up in the Champion Chase in March – his only setback over fences – he’d surely be long odds-on today.
A rare bone condition was put forward as mitigation for that Cheltenham flop and, in his defence, Shishkin was in trouble almost from flagfall so something was clearly ailing him. Nicky Henderson believes he’s got a clean bill of health now. If he’s anywhere near the horse that outmuscled Energumene in a Clarence House cracker at Ascot in January, he’s going to have too much for these rivals.
Paul Nicholls suggests last year’s winner Greaneteen is a better horse now, but he’ll need even more to down Shishkin at or near his best, while last year’s top novices Edwardstone and Gentleman De Mee are stepping inside the ropes with heavyweights now.
A Shishkin win would be great for racing and he’s on the Betfred Betfinder Most Napped table for today’s action so there’s plenty faith that Cheltenham was a blip.
Straight after the Tingle Creek comes the Sandown finale via the London National Handicap Chase (15.30) over a stamina-sapping journey of more than three-and-a-half-miles and REVELS HILL (7/4) looks tailor-made for the challenge.
Harry Fry’s seven-year-old found plenty of improvement during his novice season last term, finishing with back-to-back handicap wins at Taunton (2m7f/3m4f) and that bodes very well for him stamina-wise coming into this event.
Last month’s reappearance at Ascot (2m5f, good to soft) was more than pleasing as he outran odds of 11/1 over a trip shorter than optimal when finishing second behind Your Darling from the Ben Pauling team – giving a stone to the winner.
He’s completely unexposed at this trip and now rated only 1lb higher, this looks an ideal target.
A Listed Fillies’ Juvenile contest at Aintree (12.55) where French imports DIXON COVE (11/8) and Isaline De Chandou are the key players.
The former has twice finished in front of her rival when they clashed in France and Isaline De Chandou has improved since those spring clashes, she’s got to concede 5lb now with a tongue-tie and hood added on her British bow.
Dixon Cove, meanwhile, made a perfect start for champion trainer Paul Nicholls when cruising around Hereford to win a maiden hurdle last month. She boasts graded form from the continent and looked one to follow in that opening gambit 25 days ago. She also sports a tongue-tie now and is a nice spare ride for Harry Skelton to collect.
Later at Aintree there could be some value in PERCUSSION (14/1) for trainer Laura Morgan in the Becher Handicap Chase (14.05). The gelding won three times over fences last season from 2m4f-3m2f on good/heavy ground.
He made his comeback last month in the Grand Sefton over 2m5f and really appeared to take to jumping the National fences as he stayed on late to finish third at a massive price despite racing from out of the handicap.
He was eight-lengths adrift at the line from that rival in the Grand Sefton and is 7lb better off now with this longer trip set to be a positive, so it’s something of a quirk that he’s more than twice the price of Oliver Greenall’s charge.