Traditionally, Christian Church readings and teachings during Advent help us to prepare for the second coming; the word advent being a derivative of the Latin word adventus, which literally means “coming”.
is ironic, then, that on the first Saturday of Advent, Sprinter Sacre
should turn out to be a non-runner in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown - due to
an unsatisfactory pre-race health check. To many in the racing fraternity,
Sprinter Sacre is the second coming – the original being Arkle, the Irish steeplechaser
who carried huge weights, conquered all-comers during the 1960’s and generally known as "himself".
remains the possibility that Nicky Henderson’s handsome two-miler will reappear
instead in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on 27th December,
which on reflection may be a more fitting conclusion to four weeks of intense
anticipation. In the Garratt household we take the preparation of Advent very
seriously… you could even say that it is a spiritual experience.
every door on our Advent calendar is a small bottle containing a dram of
whisky. The 24 bottles will take us up to the night before Christmas, when it will be down
to Nick Devenish, the vicar of Cartmel Priory, to sustain our souls ahead of the
King George VI Chase on Boxing Day (which I still think will be won by Captain Chris)
and the Desert Orchid Chase the following day.
the meantime, just like our Advent calendar, every day during the build-up
yields a special surprise or treat. On Saturday, I am hoping that Wishfull
Thinking (yes him again) will provide me with a small Christmas shopping fund
by winning once again Aintree. He has two options: the Sefton Chase over the Grand
National fences or a three mile chase over the more traditional birch
obstacles. I have always thought he is a stayer, albeit one with a breathing problem,
and I hope that he tackles the longer trip.
On the assumption that Nicky Henderson is bound to have a winner somewhere, look out for Lieutenant
Miller, a previous runner at Cartmel, who looks seriously well handicapped over
hurdles after a good campaign on the Flat. He has entries at both Aintree and
Sandown. And in the absence of Sprinter Sacre, trainer Colin Tizzard could
strike for the third Saturday running in a valuable chase (the last two weeks
have yielded wins for Cue Card and for Hey Big Spender) - with Oiseau De Nuit
in the Tingle Creek Chase.
Henry VIII Novices Chase at Sandown features a strong field including three
horses in the ownership of Martin Broughton – of which I hope Taquin De Seuil
will be the representative. Perhaps the decision over which horse runs will be
down to the going - but either way, lets all prepare for what’s