Sandown hosts its Tingle Creek Christmas Festival this weekend and, with the likes of Altior, Un De Sceaux and Altior on show, there’s sure to be a bumper crowd of festive racegoers at the Esher track.

I have a number of exciting rides to look forward to at Sandown and Huntingdon and we also see a return to action over the Grand National fences at Aintree in the Becher Chase.

Sandown on Saturday

I couldn’t have been happier with the way Lalor  performed when winning at Cheltenham last month and it’s great to get back in the saddle for the Grade One Henry VIII Novices’ Chase (13:50).

He came out of the Cheltenham race really well, as Kayley Woollacott will tell you, and won’t have any issues with the rain having won on soft and heavy conditions a number of times in his career, including at Aintree in April.

If he can replicate last month’s Cheltenham performance he should win, but it’s a decent field he comes up against.

Diakali looks the most likely danger but Lalor is the one they all have to beat.

The feature race of the day is the four-runner Tingle Creek (15:00), where all eyes will be on Nicky Henderson’s Altior. I don’t have a ride but will be tuning in to watch from the weighing room.

It's a small field where all four have their merits and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of them put it up to Altior, especially as Sceau Royal and Saint Calvados have the benefit of runs already this season.

Henderson has his team in great form at the moment and with Nico de Boinville also in such fine fettle, I’m actually looking forward to watching the race unfold as will the Sandown crowds.

Before that, I start the day on Zanza  for Phillip Hobbs in the National Hunt Novices Hurdle (12:15). He won nicely at Chepstow last time out by 12 lengths and faces similar conditions again here.

This looks a bit tougher on paper but Phillip is enjoying a much better season than last year and I’m hopeful for a nice run. Obviously he’s only run twice so will still be learning a lot along the way.

I also ride Ice Cool Champs  (13:20) again for Phillip. He was a little disappointing last season after winning at Uttoxeter, but he will handle the ground and will have no problem staying the trip. He doesn’t go there without a chance.

I’m A Game Changer   (14:25) is a consistent type who hasn’t quite managed to get his head in front recently. He has finished second on his last three appearances and found it a bit difficult last time out at Exeter.

Totterdown won really well last time and should set a really good pace which will suit my horse. It would be no surprise to see him go one better, but fingers crossed he runs well.

Elsewhere on Saturday, we get our first glimpse of the Grand National fences at Aintree in the Becher Chase (13:30).

Blaklion looks set to go off favourite and is the choice of Sam Twiston-Davies. However, he has a lot of weight to carry and the ground is unlikely to be forgiving.

He is, of course, the one they all have to beat but I like the chances of Vieux Lion Rouge  . He is getting a lot of weight from the favourite and could run well at an each-way price.

Huntingdon on Sunday

I travel to Huntingdon on Sunday and am really looking forward to riding Brewin’ Upastorm (13:20).

He won by nine lengths at Hereford last January and ran well in a strong-looking bumper at Newbury a month later, finishing fourth behind some nice types including a subsequent winner.

Olly Murphy and his team regard him highly and he looks like a very nice horse. He schooled really well this week and, although it’s by no means an easy race, he should have a great chance.

My final ride of the weekend is Dalkadam (15:30). He ran really well to finish second at Lingfield last time out and the third that day (Lizzie Langton) came out and won on Thursday by 19 lengths.

They finished well spread out in that race but it still bodes well for his chances and hopefully he puts in a nice showing for connections.

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