December is arguably one of the best months when it comes to jumps racing and that statement is backed-up again this Saturday as a star-studded cast line-up for the Grade One Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.
The field is headed by the current Champion Chaser – Altior – who comes into the race unbeaten over fences (nine-from-nine) and off a rating of 175 is the clear one to beat. This tough eight-year-old will be looking to give trainer Nicky Henderson only his second success in this race, but if he is to land the £84,000 first prize, he’ll have to see off some classy opponents.
Trainer Alan King, who is yet to win this race, has a leading player in Sceau Royal, while the improving Saint Calvados put last seasons Arkle winner – Footpad – in his place at Naas last time so also can’t be ruled out. Add in the 2016 Tingle Creek winner – Un De Sceaux – who is still going strong at ten-years-old, then we’ve certainly got the ingredients for a mouth-watering contest, even if there are only four runners!
You can get more help finding the winner of the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase on our ITV Tips page.
Plus, to help pin-point the best winning profile of the 2018 Betfair Tingle Creek Chase we are on-hand with some key trends and statistics. We hope they help you find the winner.
15 of the last 16 winners were aged nine or younger
14 of the last 16 finished in the top three last time out
13 of the last 16 winners had won a Grade One Chase before
12 of the last 16 winners were officially rated 165 or higher
12 of the last 16 winners were French-bred
11 of the last 16 winners had raced in the last four weeks
Trends – Key Runners
Sceau Royal ✅✅✅❌✅✅
Saint Calvados ✅✅❌❌✅✅
Un De Sceaux ❌✅✅✅✅❌
The last time Altior was beaten was back in 2015 and since then he’s won five times over hurdles and on nine occasions over fences – he’s a true superstar of the jumping game, but can he pass his next test? It’s hard to believe that Nicky Henderson’s star chaser is still only eight-years-old, but he returned to the track better than ever last season after a wind operation to land the Game Spirit Chase, the Champion Chase and rounded it off with an easy success in the Celebration Chase here at Sandown. He’s as tough as they come and when getting in a battle in the closing stages, he’s yet to let his supporters down. He’s rated 175, and that’s seven pounds clear of the aging Un De Scueax, so it really is hard to crab his chance. Those looking to take him on might notice the two trends that he falls down on – not being a French-bred and not having run since April. However, he’s a horse that has a terrific record fresh and the Henderson camp are sure to have him revved-up for this return. He will be very hard to beat at a track he’s already proven at.
Since 2006, with seen the likes of Kauto Star, Sprinter Sacre, Dodging Bullets and last year’s winner – Politologue – win this race as six-year-olds so the Alan King-trained Sceau Royal has some big boots to fill. He is, however, a very talented young chaser that has won five of his six starts over fences, including once over this course and distance. He’s a strong-traveller that jumps well and showed that again when winning on his return run at Cheltenham last month. He’ll also be looking to give his trainer his first success in this race and actually only falls down on one of our six trends – not being rated 165 or higher. Having said that, he’s certainly an improving chaser that could (and should) leave his current mark of 159 behind this season, while he also heads here having had the benefit of a recent run. Yes, he’s got sixteen pounds to find with Altior but you suspect there is a lot more to come from this fella.
Saint Calvados is the most-likely front runner in the field and if getting into a rhythm over these tricky fences he may be hard to peg back. He returned to the track last month when doing just that at Naas in Ireland and at just five-years-old should have more to offer. He had last season’s Arkle winner – Footpad – toiling when that horse fell last time out and has won four of his five starts over fences. The trends see him fall down on not having won a Grade One Chase and also not being rated 165+ but, just like Sceau Royal, he’s a chaser that should has plenty of scope for improvement and should not be dismissed lightly.
The Willie Mullins-trained Un De Sceaux certainly doesn’t owe his supporters anything – he’s a twelve-time winner over fences (from eighteen runs) and also a past winner of this race (2016). Okay, he’s not getting any younger at ten years-old – he’ll be eleven in a few weeks – but he still heads here having not finished outside the top two from his last nine starts. He looks another worthy challenger to Altior. In terms of the official ratings he’s the closest to the Henderson horse at 168, but that is still sevens pounds inferior. He’s another that likes to race up with the pace so could be mixing it up with Saint Calvados at the head of affairs, but we know he stays further than this trip so that will also be an asset up the stiff Sandown hill. Looking at the trends, and, just like most of the other main runners, he only falls down on two, with his age looking his biggest negative. It’s worth noting that since the race was first run in 1979, we’ve only seen one winner (Moscow Flyer, 2004) aged ten or older!
Every Sandown race covered live on ITV can be found on our Sandown Racing Tips page, with runner by runner previews for each contest.