Tom Lunn previews what looks to be a great weekend of racing in Surrey.
One of the highlights in the jump season at Sandown Racecourse starts on Friday, the Tingle Creek Christmas Festival. It promises to be a very exciting race day with plenty of great opportunities and possibilities in the long distances.
Races You Can’t Miss
12.40 – The first race is a testing three miles in the handicap steeple chase. With 24 horses due to race in this it’s very difficult to predict what’s going to happen. The long course will prove too much for some on the day. The ground will probably be the deciding factor, which ever horse favours good to soft will most likely be in contention.
13.15 – sees Tom Scudamore ride Vincent’s Forever in the 1m 7f Beazly Insurance Introductory Juvenile Hurdle. The three-year-old fillies must go strong from the start. With some serious contenders – many of whom fell last time out – there’s a big chance for Volpone Jelois, Buckle Street and Alcanar.
14.25 – will see 10 horses off the line, most notably Geordie Des Champs, Aintree My Dream and Apasionado. Each of those have won their last three races and look the strong contenders in this 2m 3f winter novices’ hurdle.
15.35 – The last race of the first day of the festival is a 2m 3f handicap hurdle which features Utility, trained by Jonjo O’Neill and ridden by Aidan Coleman. Not the most impressive in terms of form but the horse won last time by the hands of Adian Coleman.
The racecourse features plenty of challenges, with a long steady uphill straight with seven hurdles. Notably the last three are quite close together. Despite this, the park has a good record for falls and doesn’t see a lot of incidents.
Ex-Jockey now TV Presenter, Mick Fitzgerald, described the course to At The Races saying: “It’s a beautiful course to ride, especially down the back straight … The fences in the back straight, especially for a novice, put the emphasis in adaptability. They come at you pretty quick and they can break the rhythm of an inexperienced horse.”