Sandown Preview (15.15): Mr Mole can spark off the Celebration
A sell-out crowd of 18,000 will be at Sandown today to see champion jockey AP McCoy call time on his stunning career, and the Northern Irishman can raise the roof by partnering Mr Mole to victory in the race named in his honour – the AP McCoy Celebration Chase (15.15).
The Paul Nicholls trained gelding has been called some names in the past, but has looked a reformed character this season in winning three times.
After scoring in good style on reappearance at Exeter, the seven-year-old followed up over course and distance before landing the hat-trick with a career-best performance in the Grade 2 Game Spirit Chase at Newbury.
Mr Mole lost 15 lengths at the start when awkwardly away when the tapes went up, but under a confident ride from McCoy crept into the contest and was always in command from four out when the odds-on favourite Sire De Grugy made a blunder and unseated his rider.
That allowed Mr Mole to cruise home by 13 lengths, but even if Sire De Grugy had stood he still would have triumphed.
It was a remarkable performance in the circumstances, and although the son of Great Pretender was not at his best last time out in the the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival he is better than that and taken to bounce back.
Somersby finishhed runner-up the the Queen Mother, the fourth time that he has been placed at the Festival.
The Mick Channon trained gelding is a tough and consistent sort who ahs a good record over course and distance, but usually finds at least one too good and at the age of 11 is likely to once again prove vulnerable to younger rivals.
God’s Own is a Grade 1 winner who has run blinders to finish runner-up on his last two starts in the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival and Maghull Chase at Aintree, and will appreciate the return to a right-handed track.
The Tom George trained gelding is prone to clouting the odd fence, but if cutting out the errors could well prove the biggest danger to Mr Mole.
It’s also interesting that trainer Nicky Henderson has decided to let the formerly brilliant Sprinter Sacre take his chance after a lacklustre display which saw him pulled-up in the Queen Mother, but the nine-year-old does not look a shadow of his former self and could not be backed with any confidence.