Catching Pigeons: Go with the Tempo

  • Last Updated: December 7 2012, 16:05 GMT

Tactics seem certain to play a part in the results at Sandown on Saturday and not just in the big race, the Sportingbet Tingle Creek Chase.

Paul Nicholls: Tactical genius?

Paul Nicholls has been exuding confidence over the prospects of Sanctuaire and that optimism has put the wind up the Nicky Henderson camp to some extent. Has Nicholls got some tactical masterplan to deploy which could unsettle Sprinter Sacre?

But the Henry VIII Novice Chase earlier on the card could also have a tactical twist or two in its tail, as Henderson is hoping for a nice even pace for Captain Conan which he could have expected the Nicholls-trained Hinterland to give him but for the way in which that rival appeared to go from the front with the choke fully out at Exeter last time.

Captain Conan coped well enough when the Tolworth Hurdle turned into a sprint on his debut for the Henderson yard, but he isn't an out-and-out speedster and a tactical contest could open the door for a rival such as Third Intention.

One Lucky Lady works like she could be starting this season ahead of the handicapper and she is also fancied to go well for the Henderson camp in the mares' handicap hurdle, while Nicholls' best chance of a winner could come with Tempo De Cotte in the finale, the London National. Rumour has it that his breathing proved a problem when behind Broadbackbob on his debut for the Ditcheat team at Plumpton, but a tongue-tie is fitted here and the step up in trip is expected to suit.

John Ferguson's team of jumpers have made a slower start to the season than was the case 12 months ago, a virus hitting the yard at just the wrong time a couple of months ago.

But Godolphin man Ferguson has been patient with the problem and all the signs - including a couple of recent winners - suggest that a corner has now been turned.

Buthelezi looks to be up against a couple of potentially smart rivals in the opening maiden hurdle at Aintree, but had some very good form on the Flat for John Gosden and should go well first time out for his new yard.

However it is Plain Sailing in the bumper at Wetherby about whom hopes are highest in the yard. An immaculately-bred gelding, he never raced for Godolphin, but has shown plenty of class in his homework.

Alan King let us down with a well-touted loser at Newbury last weekend, but the trainer could make amends with L'Unique in the Listed juvenile fillies' hurdle back at Aintree. She had one start in France before she was snapped up to join King in the summer and her work has reportedly been impressive. There is also a good message for John Quinn's Cockney Sparrow in the same race.

At Lingfield, Jeremy Noseda's Consign is rated smarter than your average maiden at this time of the year and should oblige.

There's still plenty of activity in Newmarket at this stage of the year and John Gosden has a few to run on the all-weather in the weeks ahead. But there won't be any action from Frankie Dettori, who isn't hanging around to endure the cold snap during his enforced break from riding. Dettori and family are rumoured to be setting off on a comprehensive round-the-world trip over the weeks ahead. Buon viaggio!

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