By William Hill
Last Updated: 6th December 2019
It’s another fascinating weekend of National Hunt action with the Tingle Creek at Sandown on Saturday afternoon taking centre stage.
Here is our preview of the two-mile contest as well as a look at the London National on the same card.
Friday’s rain music to the ears of favourite Defi Du Seuil
Ever since he won the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham’s November meeting, Saturday’s Tingle Creek was earmarked as the next destination for Defi Du Seuil. Though he was getting three pounds from Politologue that day, Philip Hobbs’ star six-year-old was good value for his win and can claim a sixth Grade One victory here.
For those who were on the J.P. McManus-owned runner at fancy prices prior to this race, there must have been a few concerns over the ground, given a fast-run two miles at a track like Sandown isn’t ideal for him. However, given the rain on Friday, he should get conditions much more to his liking. His victory in the JLT at the Cheltenham Festival last season is clearly some of the strongest form around with the runner-up that day, Lostintranslation, now the ante-post favourite for the Gold Cup, and the fact that the victory was over 2m4f in combination with the rain-softened ground means he is very much the one to beat.
The rain will also be to the liking of Un De Sceaux, the 2016 winner, who showed the fire very much still burns bright with a sterling victory in the Champion Chase at Punchestown at the backend of last season. His 10 Grade One victories speak for themselves, but while he might not be on the decline, at the age of 11, you’ve got to think he might be susceptible to an improving, younger horse like Defi Du Seuil. He will be a tough nut to crack, but ready preference is for Hobbs’ runner and he looks the bet at 13/8.
Step forward and back Sandown lover Step Back
The card at Sandown on Saturday is concluded with the London National. As expected in these long-distance handicap chases, it looks an incredibly competitive renewal with plenty looking to have solid claims. The most interesting one could be Mark Bradstock’s Step Back, who seems to come alive at Sandown, having failed to finish out of the first three in all three of his starts at the Esher track.
He was a fine winner of the Bet365 Gold Cup at the end of the 2018 season, but things didn’t quite go his way after that with three below-par performances on left-handed tracks, including in the Grand National at Aintree. He ran much better back at Sandown in the Bet365 Gold Cup on his final start of last season and although he was beaten by 19 lengths, he showed plenty of zest and jumped beautifully for the most part.
He’s had wind surgery over the summer and he looks a very good each-way bet at 11/2, particularly if he’s given an easy lead in front. As we saw a couple of seasons ago, he’s very hard to peg back if he gets into a rhythm out in front.