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2018 Tingle Creek Chase tips - Henderson's Champion Chase winner to get new campaign off to perfect start

Brian Healy 6 Dec 2018
Altior can get his season off to the perfect start by winning Saturday's Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.

Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look ahead to Saturday's top-class Grade One feature race, the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.

The feature race of this week’s horse racing action comes from Sandown where the Grade One Tingle Creek Chase takes centre stage, and the top-class two miles contest gets underway at 3.00pm as the penultimate race of a seven-race card.

Boasting a first prize of almost £85,000 this Grade One race has a rich history of top-class winners, and several winners of this fantastic contest have gone on to win the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. 

Names such as Sire de Grugy, Sprinter Sacre, Sizing Europe, Master Minded, Moscow Flyer and Flagship Uberalles are just some of the notable horses to have done the Tingle Creek/Champion Chase double, whilst the great Kauto Star also won this race twice.

Perhaps disappointingly there are only four runners likely to head to post for Saturday’s feature race; but despite the small numbers, there is no shortage of quality amongst the top-class quartet who will face the starter for this Grade One prize.

The four standing their ground are reigning Champion Chase champion Altior, past Tingle Creek chase champion Un De Sceaux, and the exciting pair of Saint Calvados and Sceau Royal who both have wins to their name already this campaign.

Un De Sceaux (5/1, William Hill) won this race in 2016, beating then Champion Chase-holder Sire De Grugy to the prize, and Willie Mullins’ star will be bidding to regain his title.

The Denham Red gelding has only since tasted defeat twice since that success, succumbing to Fox Norton in the 2017 Boylesports Champion Chase at Punchestown last April, and then running a shade below his best in the 2018 Ryanair Chase where he was brushed aside by Balko Des Flos.

In between those defeats he added to his Grade One haul with a defeat of Speredek at Ascot to claim the Clarence House Chase, and following his last Cheltenham reversal he has posted wins at Fairyhouse and Punchestown, the latter of which came over Douvan.

Un De Sceaux is set to lock horns with Altior in Saturday's Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.


Connections have been bullish about his chances, especially with the ground coming more in his favour, and he’ll provide some stiff opposition despite the possibility of being taken on for the lead by the trail-blazing Saint Calvados (6/1, Paddy Power) whose sole defeat to date over fences came in the Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival where he helped to force a breakneck pace with Petit Mouchoir.

That proved their undoing, and both were swept aside by Willie Mullins’ Footpad who won readily from Brain Power with an easy 14-lengths’ success; but there is a slight suspicion that all may not have been well with Harry Whittington’s five-year old who dropped away tamely and he proved he was much better than he had shown when romping to victory on his reappearance in the recent Grace Three Poplar Square Chase.

There, the Saint Des Saints gelding had already taken the measure of Footpad when that one crashed out, and he kept on strongly to register a four lengths’ defeat of Tycoon Prince.

He looks sure to find further improvement on the back of that outing, and he remains a very promising and exciting young chaser; however, he is unlikely to get his own way up front with Un De Sceaux also likely to be looking to lead and he wouldn’t want to become embroiled in another battle at the head of the field.

Sceau Royal (5/1, Boylesport) meanwhile goes from strength to strength, racking up four wins from five starts last term with his sole defeat coming behind North Hill Harvey at Cheltenham when denied by a neck.

Alan King’s charge had the same rival behind when winning the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase over course and distance on this card last December, and he struck again at Doncaster in January to claim the Lightning Novices’ Chase by two lengths from Shantou Rock.

The Doctor Dino gelding found another jolt of improvement to win on his comeback, beating Simply Ned to land the Shloer Chase. This is tougher, but he’s clearly one who is progressive and open to further improvement. 

Improving Sceau Royal is set to take his place in Saturday's line-up for the Tingle Creek Chase.


All eyes however will be on the returning Champion Chase champion ALTIOR (8/11, BetVictor) who was last seen winning here with a defeat of San Benedeto to win the Celebration Chase.

Nicky Henderson’s star is unbeaten over obstacles, and the High Chaparral gelding is likely to prove hard to stop from extending his chase sequence to ten wins. He overcame some adversity to land his Champion Chase victory, perhaps being inconvenienced by the properly testing conditions and he never really travelled or jumped with his usual fluency or accuracy in that outing. 

Nevertheless, once the field turned in to face the climb to the winning post he found an extra gear and was well on top at the end, beating Min by seven lengths. The earlier fall of Douvan robbed the race of some of it’s sparkle, but the Seven Barrows inmate was nevertheless impressive in his defeat of a field that also included God’s Own and Politologue.

He again won easily here on his final outing of the campaign, only needing shaken up after the last to forge clear of runner-up San Benedeto and with the likes of God’s Own and Special Tiara left trailing in the wake of the eight-year old.

It has to be remembered that Nicky Henderson’s star chaser’s participation last term was curtailed until he returned to action in Feburary in the Game Spirit Chase where he brushed aside Politologue - who had ran three times up until that race - and Paul Nicholls’ charge was already a Grade One winner having won this race twelve months ago.

Altior had had a wind operation prior to that return, and a series of small setbacks kept him off the track; but he made up for lost time and still with the potential to do better still being only an eight-year old and relatively low-mileage he again rates the one to beat.

VERDICT


A small but high-class field of runners, but ALTIOR (8/11, BetVictor) should continue his dominance of the two mile chase division and extend his sequence over fences to ten wins from ten starts.

Nicky Henderson’s charge arguably wasn’t at his best when readily beating Min and others to win the Champion Chase, but he was impressive here on his final start when brushing aside rivals to win the Celebration Chase, and he ought to prove a tough nut to crack once again.

He never really looked like being beaten at Cheltenham despite not travelling or jumping as well as he had previously, but the ground was possibly against him while a curtailed campaign also wouldn’t have helped.

But he proved too good again, and despite the presence of top-class opposition he should cement his place at the top of the tree. 

With Un De Sceaux and Saint Calvados likely to take each other on for the lead, the strong pace will suit the son of High Chaparral who can swoop to collect another Grade One prize.

2018 TINGLE CREEK CHASE SELECTION - ALTIOR (8/11, BetVictor


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2018 Tingle Creek Chase tips - Henderson's Champion Chase winner to get new campaign off to perfect start

Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look ahead to Saturday's top-class Grade One feature race, the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.

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