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“We have got two fantastic days of racing in store this weekend at Sandown Park, with the highlight being two of the country’s leading 2 mile chasers going head to head in the Sportingbet Tingle Creek Chase on Saturday. Sprinter Sacre – unbeaten last season and winner of the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival in March faces what looks to be his biggest challenge yet in Sanctuaire – the highest rated novice chaser Paul Nicholls has ever trained. Unfortunately I am not riding either of them but all the same I am really looking forward to it as its going to be an extremely interesting contest.
The Sportingbet Tingle Creek Chase is undoubtedly my favourite race at Sandown Park, which may come as a surprise to some as I have won five Imperial Cups and just one Tingle Creek Chase. However, as a jockey, there is nothing more thrilling than riding a decent two mile chaser round Sandown Park. The trick with riding the two mile course at Sandown Park is getting the three railway fences right. You have to be very quick and very accurate at them. If you don’t get them right it’s near impossible to regain your momentum and get back into the race. A race can be won or lost at those fences.
As well as the Sportingbet Tingle Creek Chase, there looks to be some cracking racing over the two days. Having looked at the entries there are potentially some really nice horses racing. Overturn who won his chase debut at Sandown Park in November is entered in the Markel Insurance Henry VIII Novices’ Steeplechase, as is Nicky Henderson’s Captain Conan, who won on his chasing debut at Cheltenham last month.
One thing I do know is that my daughter Evie, will be attending. She loves this meeting – not because of watching her dad race, but because Sandown Park put on loads of cool stuff for the kids. Pantomimes, Santa’s Grotto and horse and sleigh rides. My wife also loves it because of the Hi-Life Christmas Show where she can do yet more Christmas shopping!
I also hear that we have another treat in store on Saturday, when one of racing’s all-time greats, Kauto Star will be parading before the Sportingbet Tingle Creek Chase. The recently retired dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, who also notched up a couple of Tingle Creek Chase wins in 2005 and 2006, will lead the runners of the feature race out on to the course and parade in front of the stands.
Just to end, a quick word on BBC Sports Personality of the Year as everyone is talking about it and having won it in 2010, I seemed to be getting asked quite a lot who I think will win. It’s a tough one but I think Bradley Wiggins will win in. Winning the Tour de France and Olympic Gold within a month was just outstanding sporting achievement and for me he just stands out ahead of the rest.”