Talkischeap aims to end our season on a high
In his final year as assistant to David Nicholson, Alan was an integral part of the Whitbread Gold Cup success with Call It A Day (1998), and how he would love to be back in that hallowed Sandown winner’s enclosure on Saturday, celebrating victory in the last big race of the jumps season with Talkischeap, albeit under Bet365 sponsorship.
Alan will have one eye on the weather charts over the next 48 hours as Talkischeap is undoubtedly more effective on good ground than he is in the soft, and even Sandown clerk of the course Andrew Cooper is unsure as to how much rain will fall on the Esher slopes between now and big-race time.
There has been something of an ante-post gamble on Talkischeap this week, and, though Alan is adamant that he is “not thrown in”, he concedes that his seven-year-old has some of the best form on the table, admittedly in novice company.
Furthermore, missing Cheltenham, Aintree and Ayr has to be an advantage as Talkischeap will be fresher than most of his rivals.
Alan said:”Twice at Newbury this season Talkischeap has traded punches with La Bague Au Roi and Lostintranslation, and they have shown themselves to be two of the smartest novices around.
“We have had this race in mind since his last race at Kempton, where he travelled and jumped well and just got tired between the final two fences. He’s an unexposed horse and, hopefully, there is a bit more improvement to come.”
Obviously, like several others in the race, Talkischeap is going into unknown territory in tackling three miles and five furlongs, but the fact that he won all his three point-to-points is encouraging as far as stamina is concerned.
We also have a major player in Sceau Royal in the Grade 1 Celebration Chase, and who knows maybe our stable-star can make it third time lucky against the mighty Altior.
There was 24 lengths between the pair in the Tingle Creek Chase here in December, but Sceau Royal reduced the deficit to three and a half lengths when running the race of his life to finish a gallant third in last month’s Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
Reflecting on that career-best performance, Alan added:”We got quite excited when Sceau Royal landed over the last in front, and he forced Altior to dig deep to wear us down on the run-in.
“I hope the rain stays away and, while I’d prefer that Altior was not there, our fellow deserves another crack at the champion.”