2019 Tommy Whittle Chase tips – Nigel’s 9/2 chance can scoop big prize at Haydock
Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at the big race field for Saturday's competitive Tommy Whittle Chase at Haydock.
The feature race of Saturday’s racecard at Haydock is the competitive Tommy Whittle Chase which goes to post at 2.40pm as the sixth of seven races on an excellent card at the Merseyside venue.
The Tommy Whittle Chase takes place over an extended 3m1f trip, abd the competitive handicap contest boasts a first-prize in excess of £30,000 for winning connections, as well as a potential Aintree appearance later in the season for the Grand National.
Formerly a Graded contest, carrying Grade Two status for a time, it is now run as a handicap; nevertheless, the race boasts a solid roll-of-honour, and past winners include Yala Enki, dual-winner Cannington Brook, Cloudy Lane, and Night Alliance in recent years, while last year’s winner Daklondike returns in defence of his crown in this year’s renewal.
David Pipe’s Daklondike (4/1, William Hill) has already proven himself to be a very decent staying chaser, winning three of his six starts over the larger obstacles which includes a competitive contest at Newbury back in December 2017, although he wasn’t seen out again until being pulled up at Punchestown in April last year.
The Gold Well gelding pulled up on his reappearance last term at Cheltenham prior to winning this race with a game success over Ballyarthur; but he subsequently unseated his rider back here in the Peter Marsh Chase, and he refused to race when sent to Newcastle for the Eider Chase.
He’s had two starts this campaign, finding only one too good behind Diablo De Rouhet at Newbury, and he ran better than the bare result despite only finishing in midfield in the recent Ladbrokes Trophy Chase.
He is entitled to make a bold bid in defence of his crown, but he is 6lbs higher in the weights than when winning this prize twelve months ago and this is arguably a stronger renewal so he’ll do well to follow up.
Top Wood (15/2, Ladbrokes) arrives here having found only Militarian too strong at Ascot last month, and Kelly Morgan’s charge can post a big effort having shown plenty of ability in the last two renewals of the Foxhunters’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, finishing runner-up and third respectively, and winning the Aintree equivalent over the Grand National fences back in April.
The Kotky Bleu gelding is also a dual-winner in the point-to-point sphere, and the form of her latest near miss looks solid with the third from that race since going close. A 2lbs rise looks manageable, and she ought to be competitive again with underfoot conditions no issue.
Orchardstown Cross (9/1, Coral) has progressed really well since switching to chasing following his move from Tim Vaughn to Jeremy Scott, and the Westerner gelding won two of his three starts last term, which included a ten lengths’ defeat of Kings Walk at Newbury in the Indulge Chase.
Following eight months off the track, he landed a hat-trick with a defeat of Dancing Shadow at Exeter on his reappearance, scoring by two lengths, but he failed to land a blow in the same Ascot contest that Top Wood finished runner-up in, and he eventually beat only three rivals home.
He might have been amiss on that occasion given that he never got competitive, and he can do better although he does have to atone for that poor effort last time. On bare form he does have to find some improvement, and the handicapper perhaps might just have him in his sights now; but he remains lightly raced over fences and he could still have a something more to offer.
THE HOLLOW GINGE (9/2, BetVictor) showed useful form over hurdles in recent campaigns, but Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge could make up into an even better chaser judging on his three starts to date which include running out a ready winner over Follow The Bear on his chase debut at Worcester back in September.
The Oscar gelding subsequently found only one too strong at Aintree the following month behind Plan Of Attack, beaten a head, and he landed a bronze medal on his latest run behind Keeper Hill here last month where the shorter trip may just have been too sharp for him.
The handicapper has eased him 1lb in the weights following that run, and he ought to appreciate this much stiffer test of stamina; still unexposed over fences, he’ll have no issue with underfoot conditions and a big run looks likely for his yard which continues amongst the winners.
Vintage Clouds (9/2, Coral) is a smart sort at his best, and Sue Smith’s charge has proven to be a consistent sort who knows where the winners’ enclosure is as he showed when winning here last November with a game effort to deny subsequent Scottish Grand National winner Takingrisks.
That effort might just have taken something out of him, and he pulled up on his next outing in the Welsh Grand National. However, having had wind surgery and a break, he returned with an excellent second in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham before contesting the Aintree Grand National where he fell at the first obstacle.
The Cloudings gelding showed he was none the worse however when finishing sixth at Ayr in the Scottish Grand National, and if coming back to his best form then he ought to go well. However, he has returned this season out of sorts, probably needing the run at Kelso behind Mysteree in the Kverneland Chase, and he pulled up recently in the Becher Chase.
He possibly doesn’t enjoy the Grand National obstacles, and he could do better back over more conventional fences; while he is only 1lb higher in the weights than his Ultima Chase silver medal outing and he has to be respected if coming back to that level of performance.
Lord Du Mesnil (7/1, BetVictor) is progressing well since returning to chasing, but this is a tougher test of the Saint Des Saints gelding’s credentials, and his jumping will be put under a more searching examination taking on this battle-hardened field.
Richard Hobson’s charge was fair over fences in France prior to joining this yard, and he posted some creditable efforts over hurdles last campaign without managing to win. He returned to the larger obstacles over the summer, but he failed to cut much ice on the better ground; but since returning from five months off, he has posted runner-up efforts at Stratford and Sedgefield before getting off the mark at Newcastle latest where he beat Sam’s Adventure by a neck.
That was a good effort as he was headed and looked beaten before rallying well to get back up for the win; but he faces a much stiffer test now stepping out of novice company from 5lbs higher in the weights and he’ll need to find some improvement in this stronger field.
Calypso Collonges (16/1, Coral) reeled off a four-timer over hurdles in the early months of 2018 having joined Olly Murphy from Ireland where he was without a win there or in France previously.
The Crossharbour gelding had four chase starts last term, winning at Uttoxeter last New Years’ Eve, and finding only one too good at Ludlow following a short break. Howver, he struggled at Kelso in March when contesting the Liz Adams’ Memorial Chase and was absent until a below-par return at Fakenham in October.
He ran poorly again when last seen at Bangor, beaten thirty lengths behind Graceful Legend, and while his mark is slipping as a result he probably has a couple of questions to answer now. He’s yet to prove he fully gets three miles, so an even stiffer test isn’t sure to suit, and he may well struggle again now taking on stronger opposition than he’s used to.
Crosspark (9/1, Bet365) could come on for his recent reappearance at Cheltenham behind The Conditional where Caroline Bailey’s charge pulled up before the second last having never seriously got competitive in that contest.
The Midnight Legend gelding is a dour stayer, winning twice last term at Uttoxeter and Southwell before running solid runs in defeat at Wetherby and Warwick respectively, and he got back on the winning trail to land a third win of the season when beating Mysteree in the Eider Chase where he scored by a neck.
That success was followed up by a runner-up effort in the Scottish Grand National, where he found only Takingrisks too strong, and if he can build on his recent reappearance then he ought to be a factor here although he looks to have an abundance of weight and most of his best form has come on less testing ground than this.
Completing the field for this competitive Tommy Whittle Chase renewal, Late Romantic (12/1, Ladbrokes) looks another improving staying chaser who could have more to offer despite only finishing fifth here last time out behind Perfect Candidate over further than this trip.
Oliver Greenall’s charge has proven himself to be a prolific winner between the flats, and he has taken well to chasing under Rules, finishing in the frame in all four starts last term which include chasing home De Rasher Counter at Uttoxeter back in March.
The Mahler gelding made a winning return to action when beating Renwick at Wetherby in November where he ran out a five lengths’ victor, and he perhaps failed to see out the longer trip here latest although the better ground may not have suited.
Back on a more testing surface and dropping back slightly in distance then he could well bounce back with a much better effort, and while he probably needs to raise his game a notch it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him do so.
THE HOLLOW GINGE (9/2, BetVictor) could prove the answer to a competitive renewal of the Tommy Whittle Chase, and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ improving chaser can land a valuable prize for connections.
A useful hurdler, he comes here on the back of just three previous runs over fences, which includes a win at Worcester in September. However, he was perhaps inconvenienced by a sharper test at this venue last month, and the Oscar gelding should appreciate this stiffer test of his stamina.
He is proven over this trip, having gone close the time before at Aintree, while he has winniing form on heavy ground here over hurdles so underfoot conditions ought not to present an issue.
With the potential for better to come over fences having shown some useful hurdling ability, he could be worth chancing despite his relative chasing inexperience to find further progress and he can go close for his yard which continues in the winners.
2019 TOMMY WHITTLE CHASE SELECTION – THE HOLLOW GINGE (9/2, BetVictor)