JOCKEY Paddy Brennan is hoping that God’s Own can confirm his promise in today’s 888Sport Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown – and take advantage of the injury-enforced absence of top two-milers Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy.
Though the Tom George-trained chaser is still a novice, and could have lined up in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase on the Sandown supporting card, connections are confident that their six-year-old can land this prestigious Grade One.
They have good grounds for optimism – God’s Own was very impressive winner of the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter last month when the vanquished included today’s rivals Balder Success and Somersby as well as Colin Tizzard’s classy Cue Card.
God’s Own runs in the colours of the Crossed Fingers Partnership, whose Big Fella Thanks was seventh in the 2011 Grand National when trained in North Yorkshire by Ferdy Murphy.
“Everyone will slightly fancy their chances, but God’s Own is a very nice horse to deal with and we’re looking forward to a great race,” said Brennan, who sought to allay concerns about his mount’s relative inexperience.
“Because he prefers going right, the Haldon Gold Cup was going to tell us a lot and he was very impressive that day. He’s a very exciting horse, whatever happens in this. He’s been around Punchestown and Kempton so he has plenty of experience.”
However, Alan King expects Balder Success to strip fitter for his run behind God’s Own at Exeter, with the Tingle Creek having been his main target in the first half of the season.
His horse is 7lb better off at the weights and the in-form Richard Johnson takes the mount because King’s two mean stable jockeys, Robert Thornton and Wayne Hutchinson, are both on the sidelines injured.
“He has been working really well on the grass since his reappearance run in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter and will strip much fitter and sharper now,” said King, a protégé of the legendary trainer David Nicholson.
“Our horses usually improve for that first run and he’ll take his chance in what looks an open race. There may be no Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy, but there are still nine others, including God’s Own.
“It’s difficult to make plans for the season until we get (today) out of the way, but we plan to stick down the two-mile route and hopefully all roads will lead to the Queen Mother Champion Chase at in March.”