888sport Tingle Creek Chase Preview: Sandown
Saturday is fast approaching and this week we look at an interesting Grade 1 race at Sandown, the Tingle Creek Chase sponsored by 888sport.
This maybe deemed a little over-rated in terms of a Grade 1 when we see that only one horse is rated higher than 163 – and that being the dodgy jumper, Wishfull Thinking.
However, for us from a betting viewpoint, it makes more appeal than races with a strong even money shot in the field. The entries published yesterday have left the layers struggling to find a market with Sire De Grugy and Sprinter Sacre absent from the field.
Balder Succes and God’s Own head up the market but look default favourites by their finishing first and second in the Haldon Gold Cup.
The former was kept busy last term, running eight times over obstacles and twice early in the season on the flat, recording five victories and started this season with that mentioned second in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter, and with his speed and sound jumping, is certainly one to follow this season.
Top rated Wishful Thinking can often put in some outstanding performances. He was unfancied in the betting on his first start this season but demolished a decent field in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree.
His leap at the last fence was spectacular and it was clear he absolutely loved doing his job that day. He’s a regular in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham over a trip short of his best and has finished behind speedier horses in the last two seasons, though still could rate an each-way chance.
Oscar Whiskey is next in but he has long looked a specialist two and a half miler and even in this below-par race it is hard to see him having the necessary speed; his jumping, never an asset, could also get found out. Somersby ran well at Ascot last time – one could rightly ask why the winner Al Ferof isn’t in this race – but he’s an infrequent winner and prefers better ground than seems likely to prevail here, the going currently soft with rain forecast.
Hinterland is a Paul Nicholls entry and he has a superb record in this race, having sent out out dual winners Kauto Star, Master Minded and Twist Magic.
He may not have the star quality of Nicholls’ past champions but he appears to be a Sandown specialist, having won two novices’ chases over course and distance last term.
It’s vital a horse gets into a smooth jumping rhythm at Sandown as the fences come thick and fast and, with Hinterland having proved he’s more than adept in this department, could be the one to cause a shock.
Dodging Bullets is another trained by Paul Nicholls and goes into this year a second season chaser. He landed a hat-trick of wins over fences last autumn and then ran admirably in defeat in his next two starts before a disappointing end to the season at Aintree and will find this a massive step up but well capable
Willie Mullins has three entries and, as ever, anything is possible with them regarding running plans. We would be surprised if Ballycasey takes his chance; the trainer has talked handicaps and Grade 2s and 3s with him this season so it would be a strange move to drop him back in trip for a Grade 1, especially as he was considered a stayer last season.
Felix Yonger is hardly good enough and doesn’t like soft ground but Twinlight is another matter. He looked a Grade 1 horse last year before the wheels came off at Kempton over a trip too far and it might be unwise to judge him too harshly on his subsequent starts. His return this season was excellent for a number of reasons; not only was in a career best, it came under a penalty while forcing a strong pace and when a big drifter in the betting.
There’s a chance he stays at home for the Hilly Way at Cork on Sunday, a race he’d be a very short price to win, but if running here he is the clear pick of the prices, one of the best if not the best horse in the field running under optimum conditions.
Trainer trends (past ten years)
Paul Nicholls (6-3-20) has won six of the last nine runnings of the race but was unplaced with Kauto Stone last term.
Nicky Henderson (1-2-4) will sadly not be running his star chaser and winner of the race in 2012 Sprinter Sacre. However, he will be represented this year by last month’s Paddy Power Gold Cup fourth Oscar Whisky who takes a step back in trip.
Age Trends (win-place-runners) past eleven years
Horses aged five-seven: 8-12-35. All eight winners aged five to seven were French-bred.
Eleven out of the last eleven winners have come from the first three in the betting. Although this is an understandable statistic due to reasonably small fields it does show outsiders in this race rarely get a look in.
The last ten winners have gone off 6/1 or shorter and favourites have dominated in recent years, winning eight of the last eleven runnings.
Other Race Trends….
Eight of the last eleven winners ran in the Queen Mother Champion Chase finishing 1UF1F411
TWINLIGHT has a great each-way shout if running here instead of Cork at around 16/1 with SkyBet
Alternatively, DODGING BULLETS is available at the same each-way value 16/1 with SkyBet
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