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Politologue produces Tingle Creek masterclass at Sandown

There was also a First Grade One over fences for Allmankind powers to success in the Henry V111 Novices’ Chase.

Harry Skelton riding Politologue to win at Sandown.
Harry Skelton riding Politologue to win at Sandown.
Image: PA

Updated Dec 5th 2020, 3:34 PM

POLITOLOGUE GAVE PAUL Nicholls a record 11th victory when leading home a one-two for the Ditcheat trainer in the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.

Altior’s absence may have taken away some of the gloss from the two-mile Grade One showpiece – but there was no doubting the quality of Politologue’s performance in the hands of Harry Skelton.

The John Hales-owned grey was last seen causing an upset in the Queen Mother Champion Chase winner, but there was no surprise about this victory.

In front from flag-fall, Politologue was not concerned by the proximity of Rouge Vif and managed to ward off that rival. It was then left to Nicholls’ other runner Greaneteen to put it up to his stablemate but, try as he might, Politologue (11-8 favourite) was too strong.

The nine-year-old crossed the line seven lengths clear to give Skelton a Grade One double after Allmankind’s exhilarating display in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase.

Politologue was cut to 8-1 from 14-1 to win the Champion Chase at Cheltenham for a second time with Coral, and to 6-1 from 20-1 with Betfair.

Earlier, Allmankind put in an exemplary round of jumping to maintain his unbeaten record over fences in the Planteur At Chapel Stud Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown.

After making a winning debut over fences at Warwick, having previously finished third on his final start over hurdles on his seasonal return at Cheltenham, the Dan Skelton-trained four-year-old took another step forward by claiming the second Grade One of his career.

Though pressed for the lead down the back straight by eventual third Ga Law, the Tim and Bill Gredley-owned gelding soon moved back into a clear initiative he would maintain to the line.

Impressive Ffos Las scorer Hitman moved off in pursuit of the 2-1 favourite on the approach to the final two fences, but he could not find the gears to go with Allmankind and two and a half lengths separated the pair at the line.

Skelton said: “It was brilliant. I’m just delighted we ended up going down the chasing route. We were a little bit head-scratching after his debut run of the season at Cheltenham. Perhaps the horse lulled me into a false sense of fitness that day as I thought he was a lot fitter than he was.

“Tim said let’s go chasing and I thought OK, it’s a bit of a brave man’s route. He wasn’t that great the first couple of schooling sessions at home, but ever since Warwick he just thinks these (fences) are brilliant and loves jumping them. He was a little bit out to his left, but we had a chat beforehand to contain that as much as possible.

“It is great watching those horses over the two-mile chase track here. I’m delighted to be on the winner’s roll with him.”

Assessing future plans Skelton earmarked the Grade Two Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at Warwick in February as possible target, ahead of an outing in the Sporting Life Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival, for which he was cut to 10-1 by Sky Bet and 8-1 by William Hill.

He added: “We will look at the spring targets. We will probably go back to Warwick for the Kingmaker, then look at the Arkle then look at Liverpool as well. He is a pleasure to have and has been a remarkable horse for us, a dual Grade One winner.”

Meanwhile, Vieux Lion Rouge rolled back the years to win the William Hill Becher Handicap Chase for a second time at Aintree.

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Successful in 2016, the 11-year-old was making his fifth consecutive appearance in the race and ninth overall over the famous Grand National fences.

Jumping into the lead at the second-last in the hands of Conor O’Farrell, the David Pipe-trained 12-1 chance galloped away from the opposition to land the spoils by 24 lengths. Kimberlite Candy was second for the second year running, with Le Breuil four and three-quarter lengths away in third place.

In other news, Lake View Lad upset a trio of Cheltenham Gold Cup contenders to claim top honours in the William Hill Many Clouds Chase at Aintree.

A small but select field of five runners went to post for the Grade Two contest, with 2018 Gold Cup hero Native River, last season’s Gold Cup runner-up Santini and the popular Frodon appearing the three main protagonists.

Native River made much of the running in his bid for back-to-back victories under Richard Johnson, with some prodigious leaps even proving too much from the usually bold-jumping Frodon in his slipstream.

Santini was under pressure a long way from home, but stuck to his guns to ensure he remained in contention rounding the home turn, along with Native River, Frodon and 16-1 shot Lake View Lad, who had been off the track since running over hurdles at Kelso in January.

 

Meanwhile, Beau Bay improved on his third place from 12 months ago to win the William Hill Grand Sefton Handicap Chase at Aintree.

Ridden by 3lb claiming conditional jockey Charlie Hammond, Beau Bay (20-1) jumped brilliantly throughout to see off the opposition and give 2014 Grand National-winning trainer Dr Richard Newland another winner over the famous fences.

Sir Jack Yeats made a brave bid to make all the running and he proved a tough nut to crack, but he was unable to hold the winner on the long run for home and was beaten five lengths at the line.

Modus was a length and three-quarters away in third place, with Flying Angel a further half-length back in fourth.

Newland said: “It’s a huge thrill. We absolutely love it here – it’s no secret. With Pineau De Re winning the National and Silver Adonis winning the Foxhunters’, it’s just about our favourite place.

“This lad is a stable star. He’s not getting any younger, but he was third in this race last year and seems to love these fences – it brings him alive and gives him that bit of improvement.

“We’ve seen other Grand National fence specialists do well today (Vieux Lion Rouge winning Becher Chase) and I’m so thrilled for the horse and so thrilled for Charlie Hammond, who has been with me since he had his first winner. He’s paid us back in spades.

“We had a question mark over the trip because he was walking on the run-in last year, but he’s actually finished strongly today.”

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