Sandown: Dodging Bullets completes big race double for Nicholls
Dodging Bullets came out on top in what was a very tight Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown, completing a big race double on the day for trainer Paul Nicholls, who had earlier seen his Vibrato Valtat take the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices Chase. Without the likes of the last two winners of the race, Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy, it had been a tight looking Tingle Creek before the off.
Balder Succes and God’s Own had been sent off the joint 7/2 favourites but both ran disappointing races, leaving the race open to Dodging Bullets to provide Nicholls with an incredible ninth victory in the race, following in the footsteps of the likes of Kauto Star and Master Minded.
Last year’s runner-up Somersby had set a good gallop from the off under A.P McCoy and that pair still headed the field as they took four from home. McCoy injected some pace into the race at this point and seemed to catch some of his rivals on their toes. Dodging Bullets was still travelling well under Sam Twiston-Davies, however and having taken control of the race before the last, kept on gamely to win by 2 1/2 lengths.
Somersby had to settle for the runner-up spot for the second year running, with the winners stablemate hinterland back in third. Unfortunately after the race we learned that Oscar Whisky, who had fallen at the sixth fence had suffered a fatal injury.
“You never stop learning about them,” said Paul Nicholls. “I thought he’d go close first time but he obviously needed the run. We’ve done a few different things with him since and all credit to Harry Derham, who rides him every other day with Megan [his daughter].
“He ran as well as he looked today – I thought he looked better than ever. I thought at the start of the season that he might be a Champion Chase horse. He’s grown up a bit and he travels really well.”
Earlier in the day Nicholls enjoyed more success with the sometimes quirky Vibrato Valtat taking the Henry VIII Novices Chase. Connections had to wait for a stewards inquiry in the aftermath after their charge lunged left into eventual runner-up Dunraven Storm after the last. Nicholls again had the third placed horse in the form of the 4/5 favourite Irish Saint.
Nicholls said of Vibrato Valtat: “They went a good gallop. He’s got heaps of ability but wasn’t finishing his races last year as was struggling with his breathing, so we gave him a breathing op in the summer.
“On form you could say he should have won last time, but the race didn’t quite work out right.
“This track suits him and I think Irish Saint needs to step up in trip and will get three miles. I might go for the JLT with him and look at running him in the Scilly Isles and those sort of races on the way there.
“Vibrato Valtat is probably a real two-miler. Today the race unfolded for him.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if he turned out to be an Arkle horse. He’s got plenty of boot and the faster they go the better for him. He’s definitely in the mix for that.
“He was going to go for the Wayward Lad at Kempton and he might still do that. I hadn’t really made a plan. We’ll just see how he is.”
By Kevin Walsh / Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
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