Weekend NAPs of The Day
Betfair Tingle Creek – Defi Du Seuil – 13/8
The first proper pre-Christmas 2 mile Grade 1 promises to light up Sandown again on Saturday with the second and third from last seasons Champion Chase facing off against the winner of last seasons Ryanair and the enigmatic Un De Sceaux.
Un De Sceaux may be 11 rising 12 but he shows no sign of dropping his level of form. Indeed, his last run saw him beat Min in the Punchestown Champion Chase. He has run in the Tingle Creek three times, twice finishing second and winning the 2016 renewal. He can be expected to put in a game front running display but is potentially vulnerable to a younger and still improving rival.
That younger, still improving rival may well be Defi Du Seuil. Last season’s JLT winner put some doubts about his speed for two miles to bed on his seasonal reappearance at Cheltenham, showing a good turn of foot to win. This race can turn into a staying test up the Sandown hill and his know stamina may come into play. His form last season when beating Lostintranslation now looks very good and I expect him to put in a very good display on Saturday.
Politilogue and Sceau Royal filled the placings in last seasons Champion Chase and are expected to be there come the last again in this contest but may ultimately find one too good.
Defi Du Seuil is best priced 13/8 with Paddy Power.
Many Clouds Chase – Native River – Evens
There may only be a small field but we are still in for a treat in the Many Clouds chase on Saturday as the 1-2 from the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup face off against each other again. Native River and Might Bite produced an epic dual that day with Native River just out staying the gallant Might Bite. In truth neither of them have been able to replicate that form since and the race must have taken it’s toll on them both.
Native River is the selection as he showed better form last season and on the three occasions he faced Might Bite he finished well in front of him. He has blinkers fitted for the first time on Saturday and it can be expected that these will help his jockey Richard Johnson get him to travel a bit better in the early stages of the race.
Might Bite needs to come back from a write off season last year which saw his weaken quickly in all of his three starts. He has had wind surgery but I would be keen to see him finish out a race before considering backing him.
Black Corton can be expected to run his race again and pick up the pieces should fitness be lacking for the top two in the market. It should be noted that he was a Grade 1 winner over 3 miles as a novice.
Native River is best priced Evens with Paddy Power.
Henry VIII Novices’s Chase – Summerville Boy – 7/2
This is a fascinating novice chase where any one of the first four in the market could win. They may all need to take another step forward to compete at the very highest level over fences but this will be a very good race in its own right.
Summerville Boy looked to have the world at his feet when winning the 2018 Supreme Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Last season however was a major disappointment and he is on a bit of a retrieval mission. They decided to stay hurling last season and he was well put in his place by the top open grade 1 horses. He had a few issues all season though and hopefully that was the reason why he was below his best. His reappearance over fences at Uttoxeter was impressive and with a summer wind op to boot he can progress further over fences this season.
Torpillo is only a 4 year old and that means he gets a 6lbs weight allowance. He put in a good performance on his chasing debut, beating some decent horses. It will be interesting to see how he fares here upped in class.
Nube Negra is clearly a very good jumper but will need to up his form again to win this, while grade 2 winning hurlder Grand Sancy makes his chasing debut in the deep end in a grade 1.
Summerville Boy is best priced 7/2 with Ladbrokes.
John Durkan Memorial Chase – Presenting Percy – 5/1
Potentially the most exciting and informative race of the weekend takes place at Punchestown on Sunday when six grade 1 winners face off against each other over two and a half miles.
Min could be the standout here and at a trip that probably suits him best. He has an excellent record when fresh, winning on every seasonal reappearance, but with there still a question mark over some of Willie Mullins horses on their first runs of the season he may be one to avoid at a short price.
Reel Steel has some good novice form and was very good at Down Royal, he should run well and this is an opportunity for him to announce himself as a top class open horse.
Preference though is for the 2018 RSA winner Presenting Percy. Successful on his last two seasonal reappearances, the Pat Kelly trained 8 year old went off favorite for last seasons Cheltenham Gold Cup before sustaining an injury and finishing lame.
It was a tough season for Presenting Percy as the dry weather in Ireland forced him to miss most of the campaign but when we did see him reappear in the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran he destroyed most of the best staying hurdlers in Ireland. He comes into this season a fresh horse and even if not at full fitness he could go well here. He has immense ability and if he were to win this he would surely move back to the top of the Gold Cup market.