Sandown & Aintree Tips for 9th December 2023

Result: £8.45 Results for Sandown & Aintree Tips for 9th December 2023

Aintree and Sandown serve up a sizzling star-laden feast of jumping action this Saturday. Nicky Henderson’s brilliant duo of Constitution Hill and Jonbon top the bill in the rearranged Fighting Fifth Hurdle and Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown, whilst the rising stars line up in the third Grade 1 event of the Henry VIII Novices Chase. Over at Aintree, all eyes turn to the formidable Grand National fences as a big field goes to post for the latest edition of the Becher Chase.

Those settling down for the afternoon will find a bumper nine races on the ITV schedule. Here, we pick out our best betting option in each event in this week’s Saturday Racing Tips.

1:15 Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle

Grade 1, 2m

Shiskin EW

Newcastle’s loss is Sandown’s gain, as following last week’s abandonment, the Fighting Fifth Hurdle kicks off the TV schedule. Towering above everything else at the head of the market – and miles clear of every other 2m hurdler in training – is the magnificent Constitution Hill (2/9). If anything, that price looks pretty big on his overall level of form, but we have a nagging doubt as to whether he will take part. Likely to be run on near bottomless ground and coming only 17 days before the Christmas Hurdle, we wouldn’t be too surprised to see Henderson err on the side of caution.

As such, we will go with an each-way punt in the opener. Love Envoi (15/2) and You Wear It Well (14/1) are talented mares, whilst Goshen (40/1) has his conditions if getting out on the right side of the bed, but at 12/1, we can’t resist a punt on the second Henderson runner, Shiskin.

This one also holds an entry on Boxing Day in the King George, but given his antics at Ascot, we expect Henderson will be keen to get that out of the horse’s system before rocking up at Kempton. A 2m spin around here should provide a nice tune-up for this converted staying chaser. He’s 10lb and 23lb clear of the two mares but concedes only 7lb, boasts a seven from 10 record on soft or worse going and is already a four-time Grade 1 winner at this trip. With the going set to bring stamina into play, his class can see him hit the frame.

1:30 Boylesports Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap Chase

Class 2, 2m4f

Richmond Lake

Competitive handicapping fare sets the ball rolling at Aintree, with a decent case to be made for a whole host of these. Defending champion Brave Seasca (4/1) is vying for favouritism for the bang in form Venetia Williams yard and boasts obvious claims off a 1lb lower mark. However, he was beaten 39l on his first start since a wind-op on his seasonal return, which is a little off-putting at a shortish price. Heltenham (4/1) makes more appeal, having scored over hurdles on his seasonal return, but was a little scruffy at his obstacles that day and fell on his last chase start.

War Lord (6/1) is another for the shortlist following an encouraging third on his first start since a wind-op, but the one to get the vote is the Donald McCain-trained Richmond Lake (9/2). A perfect two from two in chases at around this trip, it was expected he would need the run on his hurdles return but he still proved too good for a decent field at Wetherby. Only 2lbs higher than for his most recent win over the larger obstacles, there may be plenty more to come from this Hemmings Racing-owned runner.

1:50 Betfair Henry VIII Novices’ Chase

Grade 1, 1m7½f


Back to Sandown for the opening Grade 1 of the day for a race which includes Altior, Edwardstone, and Jonbon on the recent roll of honour. Whether there is anything of that calibre in this field remains to be seen but we at least have a few runners with major potential.

Jamie Snowden’s Colonel Harry (4/1) falls into that category, having made an eye-catching start over fences at Chepstow, as does the dropped-in-trip, Unexpected Party (4/1), whose stamina may prove an asset in these conditions. However, had JPR One (7/4) not unseated after the last at Cheltenham last time out, we suspect he would be an even shorter price here. This bold jumping front runner put the field to the sword in that Arkle Trial and was well on his way to posting one of the most impressive novice performances of the season, only to stumble on landing and send Brendan Powell to the turf. He looks the one to beat if none the worse for that experience.

2:05 Boylesports Becher Handicap Chase

Premier Handicap, 3m2f

Minella Trump EW

The Chair, Canal Turn, Valentines, and Becher’s Brook take to the stage in the most impressive spectacle of the day. The presence of the 162-rated Coko Beach means that the bottom five runners must race from out of the handicap. Of that quintet, Percussion (11/2) may still go well, having finished third here 12 months ago and second in the Grand Sefton over these fences last time out.

This race has been no stranger to a repeat winner and defending champ Ashtown Lad (4/1) heads the betting for Dan Skelton. Only 2lbs higher than in 2022, he’s handicapped to go close. On the downside, he produced an error-strewn round before being pulled up on his comeback at Wincanton, and there may be better value elsewhere. The Big Breakaway’s (8/1) narrow second in the 2022 Welsh National brings him into it, but he didn’t make it any further than the second in the Grand National.

At a bigger price, a chance is taken on the Donald McCain representative, Minella Trump (20/1). Back down to his most recent winning mark, he was bang in contention well into the final circuit of the Grand National, only for his stamina to ultimately give way. This trip looks more likely to be within his range, and that proven ability to handle these obstacles can stand him in good stead.

2:25 Rachael Blackmore Serial Winners Fund Handicap Hurdle

Class 2, 2m

Red Rookie EW

Nicky Henderson’s Impose Toi (5/2) heads the betting in this handicap affair as he moves out of novice company for the first time. Never out of the first two in five starts over hurdles and winning nicely on his seasonal return, he boasts plenty of potential but will need to improve following a hefty 10lb hike for his most recent success.

Last time out winners Bucksy Des Epeires (13/2) and Arqoob (7/1) are others to appeal from towards the head of the market, but the one to catch our eye from an each-way perspective is the Emma Lavelle runner, Red Rookie (14/1). An ability to handle bottomless going is likely to count for plenty here, and this one boasts a perfect three-from-three record on heavy going – including when landing a novice event over this track and trip. A couple of subpar efforts have seen him drop in the handicap, and these conditions provide an ideal opportunity to bounce back.

2:40 Boylesports Daily Money Back 2nd Juvenile Hurdle

Listed, 2m1f

Midnight Lion EW

Not too much form to go on in this event for the three-year-olds, with Max Of Stars (10/3) being the only runner in the field with more than two runs over obstacles to her name. Her second-placed finish in a Listed event sets the standard, but that looks a short enough price in a field packed with almost completely unexposed rivals.

Hailing from the Paul Nicholls and Dan Skelton operations, the ex-French duo of Liari (7/2) and Le Fauve (7/2) are unsurprisingly proving popular, with the former having won on yard debut, and the latter’s French form well-advertised since. Again, both look a little short for our liking and, in a tricky event, we will make a small each-way play on Iain Jardine’s Midnight Lion (16/1).

A fair performer on the flat when with Charlie Johnston, this one looks the type to be well suited to this sphere and sire Nathaniel does pretty well with his National Hunt performers. A recent gelding procedure, wind-op and first-time tongue tie tick the potential reasons for improvement boxes, and he looks attractively priced to hit the frame.

3:00 Betfair Tingle Creek Chase

Grade 1, 1m7½f


The classiest chase of the day sees the best British 2m chaser in training take his next step towards a crack at the Queen Mother Champion Chase crown, and it would be something of a surprise to see him beaten. Only two horses have mastered Jonbon to date, in the shape of Constitution Hill and El Fabiolo, and there is nothing of that calibre amongst the opposition here.

Edwardstone was brilliant when sauntering to success in this 12 months ago but couldn’t lay a glove on Jonbon when 9½l adrift at Cheltenham last time out. With Jonbon standing in his way, he may take up an alternative engagement in Sunday’s Peterborough Chase. With the talented Captain Guinness being a late absentee, that leaves Boothill (12/1), Haddex Des Obeaux (14/1) and Nube Negra (28/1) – all of whom are rated 12lbs and more below Jonbon. He’s priced accordingly, but the hot favourite is much the most likely winner.

3:15 Boylesports Extra Place Races Handicap Hurdle

Class 2, 2m4f

Bashers Refelection

Sonigino (4/1) heads both the weights and the betting in the final TV race from Merseyside and, having finished a decent fourth in the Greatwood Hurdle last time out, boasts solid form claims. He is, however, yet to win over quite this far and has looked a better horse on slightly quicker ground than he is likely to encounter here. Similar comments apply to Vicki Vale (11/2) from the yard of Dan Skelton, who boasts bags of potential but is yet to show her best on soft ground.

The one for us is the rapidly improving Bashers Reflection (11/2). This six-year-old has exploded into life over the past 12 months, rising from a mark of 94 to his current rating of 121, and he may not be done yet. Slamming decent yardstick Molly Ollys Wishes last time out at Wetherby, he’s three from five on soft or worse going, a dual winner at the distance, and can make a bold bid.

3:35 Betfair Exchange London National Handicap Chase

Class 2, 3m4½f

Truckers Lodge

Beauport (3/1) and Fontaine Collonges (3/1) are currently vying for favouritism in the finale, but neither has convinced that they are suited to a marathon test such as this. Fontain Collonges would be our pick of the duo on his first start since a wind-op, but we prefer to look further down the list for our selection.

The enigmatic Fotrescue (12/1) and Couer Serein (28/1) make some each-way appeal. Rapper (18/1) boasts strong claims on his best form, but the fact he was pulled up with an irregular heartbeat last time out has to be a fairly major concern. The one for us is the tough-as-old-boots Truckers Lodge (9/1) from the yard of Paul Nicholls.

A former winner of the Midlands National, he rounded off last season with a strong staying effort to claim the West Wales National at around this trip and is only 5lbs higher here, with Feddie Gingell’s claim bringing him down to a reasonable racing weight of 11st6lb. Unlucky to be brought down on his comeback at Cheltenham, he can put that behind him with a bold show here to help us end the day with a very nice win indeed.