Our in-form tipster and leading commentator has two Saturday fancies including an 18/1 chance at Sandown.
THERE aren't many Saturdays during the winter when champion trainer Paul Nicholls fails to send out winners, and Politologue leads this week's task force in a fine renewal of the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.
Successful in this race in 2017, the swashbuckling grey was forced to make his own running at Cheltenham three weeks ago until outpaced by Defi De Seuil up the hill but gets a 3lb pull with the winner now while he holds Sceau Royal (narrowly) on their running behind Altior in last season's Queen Mother Champion Chase.
2016 winner Un De Sceaux, the hugely admirable winner of 10 Grade Ones, returns again and, with Defi De Seuil open to more improvement perhaps and Waiting Patiently dropping back in trip, this is a fascinating race but not one that looks easy to predict.
Earlier, Nicholls runs two in the Jumeirah Hotels And Resorts December Handicap Hurdle with last season's course and distance Imperial Cup winner Malaya the mount of stable jockey Harry Cobden.
The mare beat a progressive type in Monsieur Lecoq that day but ran flat at Ascot most recently and her form suggests she is better in the spring.
However, stable-companion ASHUTOR looks a fascinating runner with young Bryan Carver, who won stylishly for Nicholls aboard Scaramanga at Wincanton on Thursday, taking off 7lb.
This Aga Khan-bred French import has been a little frustrating so far, despite reportedly showing plenty of dash on the Ditcheat gallops, but he ran well enough when second to Haafapiece (nine lengths back to the third Lightly Squeeze) at Huntingdon recently.
Some of Ashutor's Flat form for Alain De Royer Dupre, including a fourth to the top class stayer Call The Wind, suggests he could be thrown-in off his current mark over hurdles and, running here for the second time since a wind operation and with cheek-pieces fitted for the first time, I'm expecting a big run off his feather-weight.
Mack The Man is another likely improver and, while held on a line through Lightly Squeeze by the selection, won nicely on his reappearance at Warwick and could be the danger.
In the concluding Betfair London National at Sandown, DOING FINE is another lightly-weighted runner who could go well.
Neil Mulholland's stayer is an 11-year-old (turning 12 in a few weeks) now but you wouldn't know it as he has run well on his last two starts winning at Fontwell (in the hands of claimer Philip Donovan who gets the call up again) before finishing a creditable fourth behind Petite Power at Cheltenham. The last-named has gone in again since at Uttoxeter and finished second at Exeter yesterday while third-placed stable-companion Fingerontheswitch finished second at Wincanton on Thursday.
This will be Doing Fine's third appearance in the London National having chased home Rocky Creek in 2016 before finishing strongly into fourth behind Benbens a year later off a mark of 137 (runs here off 124 less Donovan's 7lb allowance). He also finished fifth to Henllan Harri in the 2017 Bet365 Gold Cup so clearly loves Sandown.
It could be that conditions will be a little too soft for him, but he has run well on good to soft before (including at Cheltenham last time) and, likely to be staying on in the closing stages, he looks decent each-way at double-figure odds.
Preview posted at 1530 GMT on 6/12/2019
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