It’s Tingle Creek weekend at Sandown, the Surrey track hosting a Grade 2 race on Friday and two Grade 1’s on Saturday.
The big betting race is at Aintree, the £150,000 Becher Chase being well supported while there are also good cards at Wetherby and Chepstow, the latter staging the Welsh Grand National Trial.
There’s impressive prize money offer on the Flat at Newcastle on Friday and at Wolverhampton on Saturday, but we begin out betting weekend at Exeter on Friday.
Friday 2nd December 2022
1.25 Exeter (Novices’ Handicap Hurdle) – HORN CAPE
This is a trappy race on the face of it, with an obvious favourite in the hat-trick seeking topweight Blenkinsopp.
We know that JP McManus and Nicky Henderson will have expected much more from their Horn Cape though and it’s likely we’ll see a big improvement from him.
He was pulled up on his first hurdle start, lost two places on the run-in on his second and then lost second last time on the run-in at Kempton. His form isn’t great, but if you look close enough it’s getting significantly better with each run and so he may be good value in the market in a generally weak race off a mark of only 103.
2.20 Sandown (Winter Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 2) – MAXIMILIAN
On known evidence, not that there’s a whole lot of it admittedly, it could be close between Henry’s Friend, Man At Work and Henri The Second here.
With luck though they’ll only be fighting for minor honours as Maximilian looks to be clear of them and can score over once hurdles again.
Donald McCain’s six-year-old is arguably a little stronger than his rivals and his form beats theres so far, while this is the main reason top jock Brian Hughes is making the trip south.
2.55 Sandown (Handicap Chase) – CORRIGEEN ROCK
A number of these are going the wrong way by the look of it, so while Corrigeen Rock didn’t with a lot to spare last time, he and solid topweight Heartbreak Kid may have an advantage.
Lucinda Russell’s Corrigeen Rock is only a five-year-old and has had enough time to recover from his winning mission at Kelso, so he can continue his progression and score again.
Heartbreak Kid is next, while Rose Sea Has at least boasts consistent speed which bodes well for this race.
4.10 Newcastle (Novice Stakes) – MACHO MANIA
Newcastle’s nine-race card boasts over £100,000 in prize money on Friday night. Assuming a reasonable price is offered, Hugo Palmer’s Macho Mania is the one in the second division of this six-furlong novice race.
Heartlander may go well on debut, Deepdale ran well here on debut and De Bruyne may appreciate this. Macho Mania’s debut was decent at Kempton however, natural progression would see him go close and his sire’s progeny have gone OK on Tapeta and on dirt.
4.45 Newcastle (Handicap) – SPIRIT OF NGURU
Cieren Fallon makes the trip up to Gosforth Park for his and William Haggas’s one and only runner on the card.
Their Spirit of Nguru has strong Polytrack form and soft ground form on the turf, is a three-year-old and an overall improver and should go very well on this surface.
Raatea, based on his summer win here, could be well off at the weights, Bass Player has made some eye-catching runs and Documenting is sold but not progressive as a nine-year-old.
5.45 Newcastle (Conditions Stakes) – LOGO HUNTER
This five-furlong sprint is a £30,000 contest and a qualifier for the £1 million All Weather Championships Finals Day next April.
Art Power is a standout name. His Curragh form is pretty much Group 1 standard, but he rarely runs to that level, we can’t know exactly what level he’ll run to here and he is penalised 5lbs.
I wanted to back Logo Hunter at Lingfield last time but he had travel problems. He should love this race, is nicely drawn and Seamie Heffernan even flies over to take the ride.
Saturday 3rd December 2022
12.55 Aintree (Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle – Listed Race) – ISALINE DE CHANDOU
As usual there are a number of French recruits in this race, but the contest may go to one still trained there in the shape of Isaline De Chandou.
Brian Hughes has been booked to ride the filly; one whose French form is better than others in this contest. Yes, she’s penalised, but on a line through some of the horses she’s beaten she could handle that penalty and more.
1.37 Chepstow (Welsh Grand National Trial – Handicap Chase) – WAYFINDER
Four stood out against the field in what is usually an important staying handicap chase. But Secret Investor has been off 650 days and never was at his best on softer ground, while both Secret Reprieve and Elegant Escape are regressing.
Wayfinder on the other hand is going the right way, stays well and has been in the first two on 6 of 9 chase starts. While some horses don’t handle Chepstow, this fellow loves it and can add another win on his favourite course for Rebecca Curtis.
2.20 Sandown (Handicap Hurdle) – LOVE ENVOI
Although beaten when last seen, Dawn Run winner Love Envoi remains very progressive overall and can handle topweight in this race to see off the likes of Playful Saint, Hermes Boy and Homme Public.
Jonathan Burke is on board for trainer Harry Fry.
3.15 Aintree (Handicap Hurdle) – WALKING ON AIR
Nicky Henderson’s Walking On Air is another horse I wanted to back recently, this time when he was pulled out due to ‘good’ ground (no shock) at Newbury last month.
He hasn’t raced for a while and was pulled up on his second hurdles start, but was extremely impressive before that and in fact we have no idea where his ceiling is. What we do know, is that it is some way above the rating of 132 he has here.
Harbour Lake and Langer Dan were next on the list.
7.20 Wolverhampton (Handicap) – BASE NOTE
This is a decent mile and a half handicap on the Tapeta.
King Of The South keeps getting the job done on this surface but never by much and he’s up another 2lbs in the handicap. Pirate King is better on Polytrack but does have William Buick on board, while Outbox is a start but I fear he’s being a little flogged now.
Three-year-old runner Base Note however is an easy course and distance winner around here, will appreciate the return to Tapeta and may be well clear of his handicap mark on it.