Sandown clerk of the course Andrew Cooper sounded hopeful rather than optimistic that there would be rain ahead of the track’s two-day December meeting which features the Tingle Creek Chase. There was the prospect of 3-5mls before Saturday’s Grade 1 contest but underfoot conditions are likely to be good for todays fascinating six-race card.

I am slightly concerned about the ground not being soft enough for Bali Body (12.45) in the opening amateur riders’ handicap chase, but I am sure there are races to be won with Dr Richard Newland’s 6-year-old who ran well, despite a couple of novicey mistakes, on his chase debut at Warwick last month.

He jumped slightly out to his right in the midlands and his two best starts over hurdles were gained on a right-handed track. He has the scope to jump a fence and he would have merited nap material on soft ground. The 4s ew with William Hill is about right although if there isa rogue shower or two that would certainly be a help.

Rolling Dylan finished runner up in a Veterans’ Chase at Aintree last time and is on a decent mark. He is ridden by an inexperienced amateur jockey who I am not familiar with, but he showed enough on his reappearance to suggest there are more races to be won with the 10-y-old.

Champagne Well bounced back to form when winning over hurdles at Plumpton last month and he is rated just 1lb higher than that mark over back over fences. He carries top weight in the novices’ handicap chase, but he must have every chance for the excellent Fergal O’Brien.

My two against the field are the chase debutant Bothwell Bridge (1.50) and Mahler’s Promise with marginal preference for the Nicky Henderson-trained six-yar-old. In a recent stable tour, the Lambourn handler said of the gelding: “I’ll be disappointed if he’s not a leading novice chaser this term.”

The selection- 7/2 with 10Bet – won two of his four hurdles last season and has had a wind operation since disappointing in the Grade 1 3m hurdle at Aintree in the spring. Mahler’s Promise jumped well when runner up over C&D off this mark last month and may have gone even closer had his saddle not slipped.

Like many in the Philip Hobbs yard Pileon (3.35) was below par last season but he has dropped to an attractive mark and made a very promising seasonal debut when a close fourth at Aintree from a 1lb higher mark. The selection finished runner up in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham back in March 2020 and he is now 7lbs lower in the weights.

That Aintree run was his first start over three miles and his stamina did seem to give way after the last which is a slight concern. I would think he will be played late by Ben Jones and note he has run two of his very best races – albeit without winning – under todays pilot. The ew recommendation is 9/2 with Boylesports.

At Exeter Tip Top Cat will have his supporters as he tries to follow up last month’s course win over a longer trip than todays from a 4lb lower mark. The ew vote, however, goes to No Hubs No Hoobs (1.30) who I thought ran a race full of promise under tender handling at the minimum trip last time. The selection is certainly bred for this step back up in distance on his handicap debut and it is well documented that the Tizzard yard were not at their best last term. This lightly raced inmate could be very well treated.

There was 5s about on Thursday with William Hill but he is 11/4 with MansionBet at the time of posting at 5pm on Thursday.

Boothill (2.05) is an exciting novice chaser and one of my horses to follow this season. The poor form of the Harry Fry yard was a major concern, but the stable had a welcome winner at Leicester on Thursday. The selection is 11/8 with Boylesports.

Gunsight Ridge (2.40) looked ready fir a step back up in distance when staying at Aintree on his chase debut. A winner of his sole point in his native Ireland Olly Murphy has said that he expects his youngster to make up into a much better chaser than hurdler. He runs from the same mark as his hurdle rating.  

The early money has been for the Venetia Williamd trained LHomme Presse with Murphy’s novice out to 3/1.

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