Make no mistake, these guys are in heaven when they are riding horses that win like that. That’s why they put up with the mud in their faces, the wasting, riding in the rain, the early starts in the freezing cold and travelling miles to finish out the back or to end up going to hospital in an ambulance.
A travesty, once again, that our own Tony McCoy (or Ruby himself) is not on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist. Maybe, when he’s riding horse like Somersby today, he doesn’t care. Nor should he.
Racing is so full of jargon and cliches that it is a challenge to preview a race without falling into all the traps laid out for you. Like the great Tingle Creek (No 49 in the Racing Post’s 100 Favourite Racehorses) I will attempt to stand off the cliche obstacles as far as I can!
I love Sandown and I like the Tingle Creek Chase. It is aptly named, given the speed those 2 mile specialists thrash round the railway fences. I can’t give an honest preview of tomorrow’s race. Firstly, the course is subject to a 7.30 a.m. inspection (but they are confident of passing). Secondly, my judgement is a bit clouded where Well Chief is concerned. Thirdly, with a field of five I am always cautious!
A bit of course and distance is probably what I will stick with here, although I run the risk of disrespecting the Irish pair with that approach (which I don’t). Well Chief has it tucked in the book but this is a race in quick succession for the lovely chestnut with “glass legs”. Added to that he came back from the Connaught with cuts. Twist Magic is the other with CD to his name having won this the year before last. He lost his way last year, (cliche in the bag) but his seasonal reappearance third in the Haldon Gold Cup reads well enough. He has two ways of running (cliche 2) but I reckon it maybe a case of horses for courses tomorrow. Of the Irish I would take Forpadydeplasterer over Big Zeb given the latter’s propensity for taking a tumble. Mahogany Blaze is sure to run his race again (I’ve stopped counting).
Twist Magic for me. I also want to mention Mrs Penny, who runs in the 7.20 tonight at Wolverhampton. She came over from Australia with smart form and had her campaign cut short due to some problems. She has now had a wind op and although carrying top-weight has been working well at home and is the class horse in the race. I have hopes for her.
Really I wanted to write this post to remark upon the race’s epomymous hero – Tingle Creek an American-bred chaser who particularly liked to scorch round from the front at Sandown in eyecatching fashion.
Jockey, Steve Smith Eccles wrote of him:
“Tingle Creek probably provided me with my best memories. I was young and brave at the time and that style of riding really suited the horse – all he needed was to be pointed in the right direction. He either met a fence long or even longer – he would never get in close and fiddle. He never fell and certainly with me I can’t even remember him making a mistake.”