Politologue delivered our eleventh success in the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Betfair Chase on Saturday with a bold display of front running.
I love training the quickest two mile chasers and Politologue is right up there with the best given that he is the reigning champion and this was his second victory in the race following on from his triumph in 2017.
With stable companion Greaneteen finishing a creditable runner up, Saturday’s renewal was quite a triumph for Team Ditcheat. All the talk beforehand had been about the chances of Altior who was an odds on shot for the Tingle Creek until Nicky Henderson’s late decision to withdraw him over his fears that the ground at Sandown was unsuitable.
Yet Politologue’s winning time was only just over three seconds slower than standard which confirmed the general view that conditions were not nearly as bad as Nicky feared. As everyone knows I enjoy a challenge and I wish Altior had run. I was dying to have another crack at him because he has a few questions to answer since his defeat by Cyrname thirteen months ago.
This time last year Politologue broke a blood vessel in the Tingle Creek, something which persuaded me to train him differently before his stirring triumph in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Festival. We’ve got the key to him now and the way he won on Saturday suggests he is better than ever. He has been running at the top level for a long time and was given a terrific, positive ride by Harry Skelton who was determined to force the pace from the off and kept enough up his sleeve for the final hill.
I’m grateful for his owner John Hales allowing me free rein to change Politologue’s training routine and it was brilliant to see the sheer joy on John’s face as he greeted him afterwards. If the horse runs again before Cheltenham it is likely to be in the Clarence House at Ascot which is the plan at the moment .
Greaneteen wasn’t quite good enough but he ran very well given that he is rated 11lbs behind Politologue and is only a six year old. With time on his side I am sure there is a Grade 1 prize in him and he will keep improving.
Just over half an hour earlier Harry Skelton also shone on the free running Allmankind in the Henry VIII Chase. I was extremely hopeful that our French recruit Hitman would serve it up to Allmankind but Harry Skelton showed initiative by nicking five lengths going to the Pond fence. That proved crucial because although Hitman travelled and jumped like the top novice that he is and finished strongly he was never quite able to get to the leader after jumping a little novicey over the railway fences . I think they are both very good horses and I wouldn’t be afraid of taking on the winner again in the future.
At Aintree the decision to by-pass all the fences in the home straight because of the low sun put paid to Frodon’s chances in the Many Clouds Chase. His jumping is his greatest asset and he was never going to win once it turned into a flat race. He had a hard race for nothing and its the second time it’s happened to him at Aintree. He will bounce back.
Our horses have now earned in excess of £1 million for their owners this season and we have plenty to run this week as we continue our pursuit of a century of winners by the end of the year. Monmiral will have an entry in the juvenile races at both Doncaster and Cheltenham and we will field two or three in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.
For the latest news on my weekend runners please check out my Betfair column which goes live late on Friday afternoon.