History is written by those who turn up and so it was that Politologue bagged the Tingle Creek here to go along with his Champion Chase victory in March, both races Altior missed. It made for a rotten day for Altior’s trainer, Nicky Henderson, whose six runners were beaten and then looked rattled in a TV interview, but it yielded the best afternoon in the career of Harry Skelton, who rode two Grade One winners.
“You wouldn’t see a better ride around here,” Paul Nicholls said of Skelton’s efforts aboard Allmankind in the Henry VIII Novice Chase. Nicholls’s runner, Hitman, worked hard to close the gap in the straight, but Skelton had poached a handy lead over the railway fences and never relinquished it.
Skelton’s attacking verve has become familiar, but was even more impressive because Allmankind, trained by his brother, Dan, was having just his second race over fences following doubts about his suitability as a steeplechaser.
“He’s quite hairy at times,” the jockey said. “After watching him school at home, I was thinking, crikey, I’m not sure I should be putting my hand up to ride this.”
When Allmankind made his chasing debut at Warwick “he basically bolted for two miles,” Skelton said. “He’s clearly got a massive engine, but not a lot upstairs and that’s probably what makes him good.”
The rider’s instinct for self-preservation must be low if he is prepared to set such a mount alight down the back-straight of a course like Sandown.
Politologue was clearly the right horse to be on in the Tingle Creek, but the grey has not always run to his talent in the past and Nicholls, pleased to have Skelton on his side this time, reckons a change of training regime has made a difference. “We’ve done completely different things with him. He needs to do plenty but not a lot of galloping, not a lot of three times up our hill. We’ve got a little routine that we do with him and it works. It just gets him in a really good place.”
Sunday’s horse racing tips
Kelso 11.55 Trooper Turnbull 12.25 Tree Of Liberty 1.00 Craiganboy 1.32 Wild Polly 2.02 Artic Mann 2.45 Mahlervous 3.20 Bigirononhiship (nap) Southwell 12.01 Loulin 12.31 Attaboy Roy (nb) 1.06 Hugsy 1.46 Spring Romance 2.20 Newbolt 2.55 Palazzo 3.25 Drew Breeze Huntingdon – Abandoned due to flooding
Those two victories amounted to “a magic 45 minutes” in the words of Skelton, whose commitment to the job has survived much less rewarding times. “I rode eight winners one season, thought the whole world was going to end. But it’s a rough game, you know? Paul has always said to me ‘Take your time, be patient.’ The afternoon I’ve had now, every single hardship has been worthwhile.”
The time for the Tingle Creek was six seconds faster than when Altior won in 2018, suggesting soft was a fair description of the ground, but Henderson insisted it was heavy and added the phrase “bottomless gluepot” as he explained his decision to withdraw Altior late on Friday.
The trainer regretted running his star against Cyrname on testing ground at the start of last season and it appears that experience has had a lasting effect on him.
At any rate, Altior remains healthy and will be a thrilling addition to either the Peterborough at Taunton on Thursday or the Desert Orchid at Kempton’s Christmas meeting. Henderson said both races would have come too soon had Altior raced here.