Last weekend’s showpiece jumps contest didn’t disappoint as Buveur D’Air stamped his class all over the Fighting Fifth – and there’s now another storm brewing at Sandown.
Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Altior returns for the Tingle Creek and he faces three potentially dangerous opponents in what should be a thrilling renewal of the jumps racing spectacles of the season – but can anything crack Altior?
Saint Calvados to win @ 13/2
Altior bids for his ‘Perfect 10’ over fences and is nigh-on impossible to oppose as the odds-on favourite. He’s answered every question in his jumping career so far. He has, however, shown a tendency to hit a flat spot in his races more recently and, on very soft ground, that might cost him.
Harry Whittington’s Saint Calvados looked to have matured last month when he claimed the scalp of Arkle winner Footpad in Ireland. It was a polished display and, we can surely hope, the throat-cutting tactics that all but killed his chance at Cheltenham in March won’t be repeated now.
In fact, if Gavin Sheehan can convince him to take a lead from Un De Sceaux, who will set the sort of gallop he requires, there could be more to come from the youngster in the line-up. Altior is hard to topple here but at the prices perhaps the young pretender is worth a shot.
Ch’tibello each-way @ 12/1
Ch’tibello was running in elite company 12 months ago. He came up with excellent efforts in Grade Two contests at Cheltenham, Haydock and Wincanton, behind the likes of My Tent Or Yours, The New One and Elgin, before being outclassed in the Champion Hurdle.
Now he turns up the Merseyrail Handicap Hurdle at Aintree and he’s not even top choice from Dan Skelton’s yard in the betting.
All three of his starts this season have come on good ground, whereas his standout form last term came with plenty of give underfoot. He’ll get the surface he craves now and could have more to offer over this 2m4f trip. Harry Skelton sides with penalised stablemate Notwhatiam, ensuring Ch’tibello is a decent price.
Apple’s Shakira to win @ 7/2
Nicky Henderson’s filly was the leading juvenile around last season going into Cheltenham, where she pulled too hard on soft ground and finished a tired horse. It was a similar tale at Aintree and, to win, she’ll certainly have to settle much better on her return.
She goes well fresh, acts on the soft ground and comes back to action at a time when the Seven Barrows team are absolutely flying. She’s got her risks now, but that is emphasised in her price and a return to her early-season form of last term would surely see her carving up these handicap rivals off a mark of 142.
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