You have probably had a bellyful about the non-story that is Shishkin not being ready for Saturday’s Betfair Tingle Creek at Sandown – if you haven’t check out this week’s Weighed In podcast, as it may have been mentioned on there – so let’s concentrate on what we are all here for.
Analysing and assessing the eight horses that did appear in Monday’s five-day entries, and whether or not there are any ante-post bets to be had.
In Shiskin’s absence, three horses dominate the betting, with Chacun Pour Soi, Nube Negra and Greaneteen taking out a huge chunk out of the market.
Rated 176 – and that is 7lb higher than Shishkin’s mark, less we forget (that is the last time I will mention him, sorry) – Chacun Pour Soi is the undoubted top dog in the 2m division as it stands, courtesy of a series of top efforts in Grade 1 company.
Chacun Pour Soi is a worthy favourite
Granted, he is not unbeatable, as we saw when his colours were lowered first time up by A Plus Tard at Leopardstown in 2019 and when an underpowered one-and-a-half length third to Put The Kettle On and Nube Negra in last season’s Champion Chase, a race in which Greaneteen was half-a-length behind him in fourth.
So we have a recent, direct form line into the top three in the betting.
Put it this way, I can’t see any of his five-day rivals being capable of beating Allaho 5 1/2 lengths (with Nube Negra 19 lengths away in third), as he did at Punchestown in April. At around 11/8 on the Exchange, even that price is probably underselling his form superiority (over this trip, anyway) to a fair degree.
If you are taking him on at this stage, you are banking on him being undercooked on his return. Or one of the others coming up to his incredibly high form level.
Or indeed, him not making the journey over, but we won’t go down that path again.
Allaho is no forlorn hope
The ground at Sandown is currently good, good to soft in places, and, looking at the forecast – rain is forecast throughout the week, but very small levels outside of Friday and Saturday (and only 7mm there, at the moment) – I think good to soft is a fair working assumption, especially as they started watering some areas of the track on Monday.
So, no excuses ground, as they say.
And what of the likely tactics?
Allaho is an obvious forward-goer, as is Cheddleton, and Hitman has made all in a small field before, too.
Willie Mullins has also entered Allaho then, a 10/1 chance with the Betfair Sportsbook, and he would be a serious form rival on his demolition job to his stablemate in the Ryanair. He probably recorded the best performance of the week there. In fact, he did, throwing a huge time figure into the bargain, as well.
Of course, that victory came over 2m5f and he could find these rivals a touch too rapid over 2m on decent ground, but he ran well against Chacun Pour Soi over the minimum trip at Punchestown and, quite clearly, he is no forlorn hope.
In, fact he is priced up on the Exchange as if he is a likely no-show here – a price of 15/1+ is an insult on the brilliance he showed in the Ryanair – but he is definitely the most fascinating contender. price-wise, if he is seen in Esher on Saturday afternoon.
Captain Guinness, likewise a 10/1 poke with the Sportsbook but around five points bigger win-only on the Exchange – it is 1/4 1,2 on the fixed-odds front – completes the possible Irish challenge.
He has plenty to find with the principals on form and, on the face of it, seems underpriced as a result but he threatened to be a Grade 1 horse on a couple of occasions last season and there was a lot to like about his Naas comeback win.
But he has a lot to prove at this lofty level and, as outlined above, Nube Negra and Greaneteen are the big market rivals to the favourite.
Nube Negra looks too short
Nube Negra was arguably unlucky not to win the Champion Chase and was hugely impressive on his Cheltenham return, so he is a 7yo on an upwards trajectory.
But a peak-form Chacun Pour Soir and Allaho laughed at him at Punchestown – he finished a 25 length third there – and the jury is still out as to whether he is up the Grade 1 level required here.
Put it this way, I’d want bigger than 2/1 to pay to find out.
Greaneteen’s fourth in the Haldon Gold Cup earlier in the month was a well-publicized stepping stone to this and we saw what a potent force he promised to be this season when beating Altior in the Celebration Chase here in April.
But, as with Nube Negra, his price of 10/3 is underwhelming considering what the main Irish pair could bring to the table and they are easily ignored for betting purposes, for now at least.
Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls has another possible string to his bow with 16/1 chance Hitman but even those odds are not tempting considering his defeat off 151 in that Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter leaves him some way adrift from a talent perspective.
Mind you, the 16s still makes more appeal than the 25s about the 2019 winner Defi Du Seuil, who didn’t shape with any immediate Grade 1-winning promise when fourth over 2m5f at Ascot on his return, or the outclassed 100/1 outsider Cheddleton.
Watch Willie Mullins’ pair
The way I approached this race is that Mullins, successful with Un de Sceaux in 2016, holds the key – and the lock – as his two entries stand head and shoulders above this field, for all they meet youngsters with the clear potential to get on their coat-tails, form-wise.
But will he bring both? And, indeed, will he even make the choice of what he sends before 9:59am on Thursday morning?
However, of course, the downside is that that those double-figure prices will be a thing of the past. But we will cross that bridge when we come to it on Thursday.
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