Altior (Nicky Henderson) tops the eight five-day confirmations for the £120,000 Betfair Tingle Creek Chase (2.25pm), the G1 highlight of the first half of the season for two-mile chasers staged at Sandown Park on Saturday, December 5.
A winner of 15 of 16 chase starts, nine of which have come at G1 level, 10-year-old Altior is chasing a second Betfair Tingle Creek Chase having taken the honours by four lengths from Un de Sceaux in 2018. He is undefeated in five chase starts at Sandown Park, having also landed the G1 Celebration Chase in 2017, 2018 and 2019 as well as the G1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase in 2016. A restricted season in 2019/20 saw Altior only run twice and he will be making his first start since landing the G2 Win Bigger On The Betfair Exchange Chase at Newbury in February.
Altior is the 4/5 market leader with Betfair as trainer Nicky Henderson seeks a third success in the contest having also scored with the great Sprinter Sacre in 2012.
By far the most successful handler in the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase is 11-times champion Jump trainer and Betfair ambassador Paul Nicholls, who has taken the honours on 10 occasions. His most recent success came with Politologue in 2017 and the nine-year-old, who landed last season’s G1 Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham, is engaged once again. Nicholls could also be represented by Greaneteen, who created a very favourable impression when winning the G2 Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter on November 3 on his seasonal reappearance.
Another contender to have made a successful start to the 2020/21 campaign is Rouge Vif (Harry Whittington), who made light work of 11st 7lb when sauntering to a seven and a half length victory in a competitive two-mile handicap chase at Cheltenham towards the end of October. He also showed high-class form last season when successful in the G2 Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at Warwick and when third in the G1 Arkle Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham in March.
Oxfordshire-based Whittington said today: “Rouge Vif is in great form and firmly on course for the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase on Saturday.
“I am really pleased with him at home. He has come out of his win at Cheltenham in good form and his rating is too high for handicaps, so we are pitching him in to Grade One company. Hopefully, he is ready for the step up and we are looking forward to it.
“He was very impressive at Cheltenham last time out and we were delighted with the way he jumped. In terms of Saturday, better ground will lead to a better performance from the horse.
“We would obviously rather have our conditions given we are taking on the likes of Altior, so better ground will be important to him. I think if the ground remains as it is, we would be hopeful of a good run.
“If Sandown got plenty of rain then that would put his participation in doubt, but at the moment he is a definite runner if the weather holds and it is something we are really looking forward to.
“These are the races you dream about running in. To have a horse capable of running in a big Grade One like the Tingle Creek against a horse of Altior’s calibre is hugely exciting. Hopefully, we don’t get too much rain and it should be a very exciting race.”
Also going forward today is Brewin'upastorm (Olly Murphy), who looked promising last season but needs to put a disappointing reappearance at Carlisle behind him. Esprit du Large (Evan Williams) is a course and distance winner having taken the G1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase on this card 12 months’ ago but has not lived up to that form subsequently, while First Flow (Kim Bailey) faces a rise in class having scored in handicap company at Ascot on November 21.
The Betfair Tingle Creek Chase has gone to Ireland six times, most recently courtesy of Un de Sceaux in 2016. The one Irish-trained entry going forward this year is Castlegrace Paddy (Pat Fahy), who landed a G2 contest on his reappearance at Navan on November 8.
Betfair spokesman, Barry Orr commented today: “Altior is now odds-on 4/5 from 6/5 as he bids to add to his 2018 victory in the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase.
“Paul Nicholls is looking for an astonishing 11th win in this race and his Haldon Gold Cup winner, Greaneteen, who has been very popular having been backed at an ante-post high of 20/1, is now clear second favourite at 4/1, with his stable companion and 2017 winner, Politologue, just a point bigger at 5/1.
“It is shaping up to be a fantastic renewal of the race.”
Betfair Tingle Creek Chase – Betfair odds: 4/5 Altior, 4/1 Greaneteen, 5/1 Politologue, 7/1 Rouge Vif, 14/1 First Flow, 16/1 Brewinupastorm, 25/1 Castlegrace Paddy, 33/1 Esprit Du Large
The ground on the Chase Course at Sandown Park is currently Good to Soft, Good in places after a predominantly dry fortnight.
The early part of this week is forecast to be largely dry, with unsettled weather expected from Thursday onwards. Thursday is looking the wettest day of the week and up to 15mm of rain is possible between Thursday and Saturday. Cold nights are expected all week, but not dramatically so.
The Hurdle Course is currently Soft.
Saturday’s seven-race card at Sandown Park runs from 12.05pm through to 3.35pm. The other highlights on the day are the G1 Planteur At Chapel Stud Henry VIII Novices' Chase (1.50pm, eight entries), the Betfair Exchange Back and Lay London National Handicap Chase (3.00pm, 15 entries) and the concluding Listed Betfair Exchange December Handicap Hurdle (3.35pm, 15 entries).
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