Cheap talk could be worth heeding


It’s hard to imagine with half the country currently engulfed by torrents of water and racecourses battling to survive the elements, but at some point in the not-too-distant future the sun will eventually shine and the rain will cease. That meteorological occurrence will be very good news for those considering supporting the Alan King-trained Talkischeap in the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree on April 4.

He stays well but must have decent ground

At 33/1* with the majority of firms but still available in some ante-post lists at 50/1*, you may recall the Getaway gelding simply romping home by 10 lengths in the ultra-competitive bet365 Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Sandown last April – the race formerly known as the Whitbread Gold Cup – where he bounced off Good ground and showed stamina in abundance to rout his rivals over 3m5f.

That was a hugely impressive performance for a horse who was still a novice, raced off a mark of 145, and tackled seasoned warriors such as the The Young Master, Step Back, West Approach, Rock The Kasbah, Beware The Bear and plenty of other good staying handicappers.

Sandown success was particularly impressive

If you get a chance to watch a video of that race the standout moment was undoubtedly when jockey Wayne Hutchinson took a pull after the the Pond Fence, the third from home.

He was looking nonchalantly around for non-existent dangers as he tracked The Young Master down to the second last and when he asked Talkischeap to go about his business – and remember he was racing beyond three miles for the first time in his life – the response was scintillating as he burst into the lead then produced a prodigious leap at the last before powering away to win the £84,000 first prize as he pleased.

It’s hardly surprising the handicapper took a dim view of that runaway triumph and duly raised the winner 12lb to a new career-high mark of 157, the same mark he has been handed for the Grand National. Stamina does not appear to be an issue, and after that fine win at the end of last season his handler made it clear earlier this term that Aintree is what it’s all about this campaign.

Conditions against him on seasonal reappearance

A tilt at the £1million race is ground dependent though, as evidenced in Talkischeap’s seasonal reappearance at Sandown in November in the Listed Future Stars Intermediate Chase. Connections chose to give their horse a run despite the very soft ground and it was no great surprise to see him begin to flounder when the pace was raised after 3 out, eventually coming home a weary third of four behind the smart Santini, beaten 30 lengths.

“As everyone knows he’s a good-ground horse so he hated it back at Sandown the other day when he was never travelling or jumping like he can and finished tired,” King reported. “Charles [Dingwall – owner] is keen to go for the Grand National so we’ll work back from that. The ground will determine where we go with him; he’s a very small horse – saddling him next to Santini the other day they were like Little and Large!”

Size isn’t everything

He might not be the biggest horse in the world but that hasn’t been a factor to stop good horses winning the Aintree marathon. Tiger Roll is not particularly big either and he makes the job look easy.

Saturday’s Grade 3 888Sport Handicap Chase (the former Racing Post Chase) at Kempton will hopefully be a first chance to see Talkischeap since he had a minor breathing operation following his run at Sandown earlier in the term. The Sunbury tack dries better than most, so as long as there isn’t a complete deluge he should be given the green light to take his chance. I wouldn’t be expecting any great heroics though over the relatively sharp three miles, a distance short of his best.

If he jumps around safely, blows the cobwebs away, and finishes within 15 to 20 lengths of the winner that would be a sound effort and a run that will put King’s talented stayer spot on for a crack at the big one six weeks later.

 

*Odds subject to change.

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