It was highly disappointing to see the news that Nicky Henderson had declared Shishkin a non-runner for the Betfair Tingle Creek at Sandown in ten days, but we will touch on that as well as some other of the latest news a bit later.
Today’s racing action comes thick and fast with five meetings. Taunton holds an excellent six-race card while there is an informative meeting at Thurles in Ireland, and Lingfield completes Thursday’s action over the sticks.
Money Talk continues to highlight the Betfair Sportsbook big-money moves to keep you in the loop. This section highlights market moves between 1:00 am and 9:00 am.
The market says LAY!
Which horse is the Betfair Sportsbook market suggesting to Lay?
12:45 Lingfield – Movethechains 10/11 OUT 5/4
Mark your card
The Betfair Sportsbook is paying extra places today!
The opening 12:55 Short Run Press Printers And Book Binders ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle at Taunton looks like a cracker to kick the days racing off.
Paul Nicholls will be looking for a fourth win in the race with Gala De Corton 4.03/1, and Dan Skelton looks for a second win in the last ten years with Jay Jay Reilly 2.26/5. However, Earth Company 2.47/5 has had both of the above in-behind last season when contesting bumpers and could be the speedier horse for Philip Hobbs.
In the 13:25 Summerfield Developments Novices’ Handicap Hurdle at Taunton, both Famoso 2.68/5 and Nelsons Rock 2.47/5 take a dramatic step up in trip to three miles for the first time. Nelson’s Rock had the likes of Tommy’s Oscar (147) and Pat’s Fancy (128) in behind when scoring in his point to point and makes his handicap debut off a mark of 96 with a seven-pound claimer on.
At Lingfield, trainer Gary Moore and his runner Imphal 2.47/5 go in search of a four-timer in the 12:15 Free Tips On attheraces.com Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle. Imphal was eased down on his latest start at Huntingdon, and claimer Ellie Vaughan takes off ten pounds negotiating his penalty.
Lingfield’s 13:45 Read Hollie Doyle’s Column On attheraces.com Novices’ Hurdle looks like a race to keep a close eye on with plenty of unexposed and promising types. The market is headed by Duke Of Rockingham 2.35/4 for Olly Murphy, who has a 30% strike rate over hurdles here.
Novice Chase’s and Dan Skelton go hand in hand at Lingfield. The trainer has a 44% strike rate and saddle Seven No Trumps 7.06/1, who sports a first-time tongue-tie on handicap and chase debut in the 14:17.
The 18:20 Betsi Handicap looks the pick of the all-weather action today at Chelmsford. Mums Tipple 4.03/1 and Mehmento 9.08/1 both find themselves with much easier tasks than in recent times, and the latter has a 100% record on the all-weather (Southwell).
Horses for courses
This section highlights horses that have won twice or more at today’s tracks and could be in with a chance today.
12:45 Lingfield – Movethechains – Has won here twice (100%)
15:17 Lingfield – Finnegan’s Garden – Has won here three times (43%)
16:35 Wolverhampton – Summa Peto – Has won here twice (100%)
19:50 Chelmsford – Jenson Benson – Has won here twice (67%)
Weighted to go well
“Weighted to go well” highlights horses running that are more than 10lbs below their last winning handicap mark.
12:45 Lingfield – Doitforthevillage – Has won off 121 runs off 105
15:17 Lingfield – Finnegan’s Garden – Has won off 112 runs off 99
15:17 Lingfield – Ivinoble – Has won off 118 runs off 92
15:25 Taunton – Nachi Falls – Has won off 97 runs off 78
This section highlights a trainer, owner or jockey who is in excellent current form and their runners or rides for the day.
Trainer Venetia Williams is starting to get going now and has had three winners from her last eleven runners, a solid 27% strike rate. The trainer usually shows an improved strike rate at the end of November through to December. Today she runs Rock Of Fame 31.030/1 in the 13:45 and Star Academy 6.511/2 in the 14:17 at Lingfield.
Trainer Peter Bowen makes the 266 mile journey to Lingfield for just the one runner. He saddles Getastar 13.012/1 in the 12:45 Docker Hughes Memorial Handicap Chase.
Race of the day
We head to Taunton for their competitive 14:25 Short Run Press Celebrating 40 Years Handicap Hurdle in a race where a case can be made for nearly all of the runners in a wide-open contest.
An Tailliur unseated at the first hurdle at Cheltenham last time when well supported in the morning market and today goes in search of a sixth consecutive (outside of the unseat) victory.
He could still be ahead of the handicapper off this mark of 125, but this is a deeper contest than his previous five wins, and the drop back in trip to 2m3f doesn’t look a huge positive after being so strong at the finish over 2m7f on his penultimate start.
He has been well placed by connections, but he would be of more interest was this over three miles rather than today’s shorter trip.
Guernesey has improved the last twice and was only touched off by a subsequent winner in a good time figure at Warwick last time and is now three pounds lower thanks to the claim of Sean Houlihan.
He is due to go up four pounds in the handicap after today and looks in the form of his life, and although this is a step up in grade, he is not easy to pass over.
He has good claims and has failed to finish out of the first two on right-handed tracks, and another step forward would see him right in the mix.
Grisbi De Berce would have won and won well at Market Rasen when last seen in July, but for a final flight fall, and although the handicapper has given him a five-pound rise for that mishap, he would have got a good deal more had he stayed on his feet.
He arguably has the strongest form in this race with a commanding win over Cabot Cliffs rated 134 two starts prior, and his Kempton run sandwiched between the two above efforts can easily be forgiven.
He lacks race fitness today, and there is a chance that he may be too keen and fresh to mark his mark in this contest with his regular riders both at Lingfield, which could be cause for concern.
However, his Novice Hurdle form is strong, and it was clear connections were waiting for handicaps with him so he could have plenty more to offer yet.
Big race Verdict
This is a very competitive race, and there looks to be a good clip on here, with Mister Allegro and Dargiannini both likely to be ridden forward. GRISBI DE BERCE is completely unexposed, and he makes most appeal at the prices, having been rather overlooked in the market despite the strength in depth of his form.
Giorgio to finally come good at Chelmsford?
The Timeform team offer their NAP, NB and each way shout on the all-weather.
Read Timeform tips here.
For the sake of racing, be braver Nicky!
Shishkin, the leading British hope and the savour of a potentially embarrassing whitewash at this 2022 Cheltenham Festival will not run in his intended early-season target the Betfair Tingle Creek at Sandown in ten days.
In an unsurprising turn of events, Nicky Henderson claimed, “He’s fit enough, but I just don’t feel he’s sparking enough and not quite giving us all the right vibes I’d like to see.”
He also added, “There’s nothing wrong but Nico, and I feel he’s not quite there.”
This news was hardly a revelation to the social community on Twitter or any horse racing fans given the yard’s history with Altior who was withdrawn on the eve of this intended target last year in controversial style due to the soft ground – despite having won six times on such a surface.
The back and forth argument continued last night, with some claiming that the trainer is doing the right thing by the horse. This is quite understandable and sensible, but for the lack of any real excuses.
It’s the eye-rolling history that this yard tends to have of wrapping their stars in cotton wool like a child refusing to share his toys that frustrates fans.
Horse welfare is and always will be number one, but racehorses are there to race, and this has become a rare sight for the Henderson yard’s top performers during the season – look at Champ, Altior and now Shishkin, and that’s just in recent times.
Did Henderson see the sparkle of A Plus Tard at the weekend and then decide Shishkin wasn’t ready? Would he still run if Chacun Pour Soi wasn’t coming over to run in the Tingle Creek?
The fact that these questions even cross the mind is cause for concern for racing on the whole, and the unfortunate truth is that trainers of these stars dictate the growth of the sport, and it’s time for them to be bolder and braver, for all of our sakes.
Vanessa Ryle takes a good look at today’s Wolverhampton card
Read Vanessa’s brand new Betfair column as she takes an in-depth look at today’s action at Wolverhampton!
Read Venessa’s column here.
Racing can never be straightforward, can it? There are so many issues going on now; perhaps we just need to be reminded that this is a wonderful sport with incredible animals that do amazing things every day.
Until tomorrow, be lucky.