Turf Talk: Fox Norton offers much stiffer test of Politologue’s abilities in Sandown feature

Politologue, ridden by jockey Sam Twiston-Davies during the Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase in April. PIC: David Davies/PA Wire
Politologue, ridden by jockey Sam Twiston-Davies during the Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase in April. PIC: David Davies/PA Wire
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Douvan’s 11th-hour absence from the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase was undoubtedly a blow for the Sandown feature, but Politologue can take full advantage in the two-mile Grade One showpiece.

Paul Nicholls’ charge admittedly has to find a good chunk on the official figures with Fox Norton, but it is not unreasonable to expect him to progress again following a likeable return at Exeter.

Brain Power, ridden by David Mullins to victory in The Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle Race run in December last year. PIC: Julian Herbert/PA Wire

Brain Power, ridden by David Mullins to victory in The Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle Race run in December last year. PIC: Julian Herbert/PA Wire

While he was slightly favoured at the weights with one or two in the Haldon Gold Cup, Politologue still put in an excellent round of jumping to run out a two-and-a-quarter-length winner over the reopposing San Benedeto, with Ar Mad and Sir Valentino both failing to finish.

He idled a bit on the run to the line that day, although he could have just needed it, but it was hard not to be impressed with his strong-travelling performance.

Fox Norton clearly represents a much stiffer test of Politologue’s abilities, but Nicholls knows what it takes to win this event better than most and obviously thinks the Sandown track will suit his runner.

Politologue would already be a Grade One winner were it not for his unfortunate last-fence blunder at Aintree in the spring, and he can right the record here.

Blaklion on the gallops during the stable visit at Grange Hill Farm, Cheltenham. PIC: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Blaklion on the gallops during the stable visit at Grange Hill Farm, Cheltenham. PIC: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

The randoxhealth.com Henry VIII Novices’ Chase is the other top-level event at the Esher venue and it is Nicky Henderson’s Brain Power who really appeals here. He takes a steep hike in class after winning a novice chase at Kempton on his seasonal return, making all to stroll home by 28 lengths. Brain Power is the least experienced runner over fences in this line-up but he has oodles of potential and it is perhaps telling Henderson is following the same route as last year’s winner Altior.

The wraps come off the Grand National fences at Aintree and Blaklion looks the obvious pick in the Randox Health Becher Handicap Chase.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge showed his aptitude for the specialist obstacles when finishing fourth in the big one back in April and his half-length second to Bristol De Mai in the Charlie Hall on his reappearance reads particularly well now.

The handicapper actually dropped him 2lb for that excellent effort and his decision could prove costly for the bookmakers.

Archie Watson has enjoyed a fine season and Corinthia Knight can further add to his impressive statistics in the 32Red.com Conditions Stakes at Wolverhampton.

This six-furlong heat is a Fast Track Qualifier for Finals Day in the spring and Corinthia Knight can make use of his handy pull in the weights to see off Sound And Silence, who was only just ahead of him off level weights at the Breeders’ Cup meeting.

Watson’s runner is rated 2lb inferior to the Godolphin challenge, but actually gets 6lb, which should put in the driving seat.

TURF TALK TIPS

AINTREE: 11.55 Ainchea, 12.25 Hargam, 12.55 Le Breuil, 1.30 Blaklion (treble), 2.05 Cubswin, 2.35 Top Notch, 3.10 Mercian Prince.

CHEPSTOW: 12.30 Rhaegar, 1.00 Sam Brown, 1.35 Lough Derg Farmer, 2.10 Present Times, 2.45 Flintham, 3.20 Zalgarry, 3.50 Mzuzu.

SANDOWN: 12.05 Just A Sting, 12.40 The Wicket Chicken, 1.10 Beat That, 1.45 Brain Power (next best), 2.20 Unison, 2.55 POLITOLOGUE (NAP), 3.30 Doing Fine.

WETHERBY: 11.45 Wemyss Point, 12.15 Ami Desbois, 12.45 Durbanville, 1.20 Sir Will, 1.55 Aristo Du Plessis, 2.25 Clan Legend, 3.00 Perfect Myth.

WOLVERHAMPTON: 5.45 Blazed, 6.15 Edge, 6.45 Holy Heart, 7.15 Kaser, 7.45 Corinthia Knight, 8.15 Velvet Revolution, 8.45 Hallstatt, 9.15 Ocean Of Love.

Might Bite wins the Mildmay Novices' Chase at Aintree in April.

Henderson: Ground is key for Bite

Trainer John Best.

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