Tingle Creek Preview, Trends, Tips
Sandown's big December jumps meeting is showcased by the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase, a two miler of some distinction. Due to the absences of the last two winners, Sire De Grugy and Sprinter Sacre, the contest has traded standout star quality for a deeper level of competitiveness, and still looks like a proper Grade 1.
Tingle Creek Trends
The trends for recent renewals, covering the last seventeen years (and including two rescheduled versions, both run at Cheltenham), are as follows, with thanks to horseracebase for the information:
- Paul Nicholls has won eight times since 1999, including a magnificent six in a row from 2005 to 2010.
- 13 of the 17 winners (76%) finished first or second last time out, from 54% of the runners. Two of the other four pulled up on their previous start.
- Horses aged five to seven have significantly out-performed their numerical representation, claiming twelve victories (71%) from 53 runners (43%)
- Five winners ran in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter last time out since 1997, from 20 to have gone the Exeter-Sandown route. Twelve of the 20 last day Exeter runners went on to place in the Tingle Creek.
Those that fit this loose profile are Hinterland (trained by Paul Nicholls, pulled up in Haldon Gold Cup), Gods Own and Balder Succes (first and second respectively in Haldon Gold Cup), and Third Intention (won last time, though not at Exeter).
Tingle Creek Form Preview
The favourite for the race is Alan King's Balder Succes, runner up last time in the Haldon Gold Cup. He ran on this card last year, in the Henry VIII Novices' Chase, also a Grade 1, where he was a well beaten fifth of sixth to the re-opposing Hinterland.
After that, he went on to rattle off a hat-trick of wins at Warwick, Kempton and Aintree. The first two were in Grade 2 company, and the last was a Grade 1, on ground varying from heavy to good, and at trips from two miles to an extended two and a half.
All three of those tracks are flatter than Sandown, however, and he does have a little to prove on a more testing circuit, for me at least. That said, it was a perfectly pleasing seasonal introduction at Exeter behind God's Own, and both trainer King and jockey Richard Johnson continue in excellent form.
He's as short as 2/1 in a number of places, with the top price of 11/4 being about right, and I'd only be tempted to back him at 9/2 or bigger.
That's as good an odds enhancement as I've seen in a long while, and well worth availing of if you've not got a Winner account already.
Next in the market is the horse that beat Balder last time, and the time before that, God's Own. Tom George's novice has thoroughly earned his place in this line up with a convincing verdict in the Haldon Gold Cup (Balder Succes, Pepite Rose, Somersby and Hinterland all beaten off) supplementing his shock - at the time - Grade 1 success in the Ryanair Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival.
Prior to that pair of wins, he was beaten by Balder Success over further, and it might be that the stamina test here plays to the jolly's deeper reserves. It's fair to say that there ought not to be too much between the pair.
But this is a deep contest, and there are others around whom it is easy enough to make a case. How about Oscar Whisky for instance?
He's a 7/1 chance here, and his line of green on the Instant Expert attests to how well suited to this examination he is. (Click the image below to open it full size in another window).
Oscar Whisky ran a great race when a couple of lengths fourth in the Paddy Power two weeks ago, and he's two from two at Sandown, including a win in a (granted, very soft) Grade 1. Talking of soft, the muddy turf is right up his street, and he looks an extremely solid each way bet.
Harry Fry runs his precocious French import, Vukovar, and this lad brought over a tall reputation from the continent. However, in three UK runs, he has managed a sole win, in a class 3 novice chase at odds of 4/6 and, while he remains open to bundles of improvement, he's a pretty skinny price for my tastes in a race of this quality and depth.
Talking of skinny prices, I find it hard to understand why the exposed ten year old, Somersby, is half the odds of Hinterland. Sure, the old lad retains ability, as he showed when second to Al Ferof the other day. But he was well beaten in the Haldon Gold Cup, and this will be a third run in the space of 32 days, which is tough at the top level.
Hinterland was pulled up in that Exeter Grade 2, but then so were Ask Tom (1997) and Flagship Uberalles (1998), the previous two horses to run in this having pulled up in the Haldon Gold Cup. That pair both won their Tingle Creek's, and Hinterland has plenty more in his favour than an obscure historical coincidence.
To wit, he is a Grade 1 winner over track and trip, on this very day last year, when bagging the Henry VIII Novices' Chase, beating Grandouet a neck, with Balder Succes twenty lengths and more behind. The likes of Taquin De Seuil and Claret Cloak were also in behind there, and the form is sound.
For all that, Hinterland failed to win in three subsequent runs, and actually failed to finish in two of them. There was that last day 'P' at Devon and Exeter, and before that a last of seven in the Maghull Novices' Chase at Aintree. Before that, though, he was cruising in Sire De Grugy's Champion Chase at Cheltenham when unseating rider at the fourth from the finish.
I very much doubt he'd have beaten the winner there, but he might have been second, and that form gives him every chance here. For those of you who like their wagers on the speculative side of speculative, he's 50/1 for the Champion Chase, a price which would be more like 8/1 were he to win here.
Keep in mind also that Hinterland is Paul Nicholls' representative (along with Dodging Bullets) in a race he's won eight times since 1999. I've backed Hinterland at 16/1, and if the good version shows up, I think he'll be tough to beat. Of course, if the other version manifests, he'll probably not finish.
Talking of Dodging Bullets, he's a 10/1 poke, and was only beaten five lengths in the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival in March. That narrow defeat was good enough for no better than fourth, and he was again close up when third - beaten two lengths - in the Listed Shloer Chase at the same venue. He's yet to race at Sandown but seems effective on most tracks, and both left and right handed.
And still there's another with a chance, as the form of the Colin Tizzard yard demands Third Intention is given consideration. Or ColinTizzardation. Hmm, maybe not. Anyway, since the 16th November, the stable - which had a bit of a bug last year and may have some well handicapped horses as a consequence (not relevant in this race, but a point to note generally) - has recorded the following results: 11132P01F4P435F511171312151423
That's a lot of 1's, and a fair few supporting 2's and 3's. In fact it's eleven wins from thirty runs (37%), which is stellar.
Third Intention has danced in the big dances for a number of seasons now and, over fences, he's been in the first three on no less than twelve of his fourteen chase starts. Alas, just two wins during that sequence betrays his lack of a gear to support his undoubted resolution.
Moreover, though he did win over an extended two miles last time, most of his chase form has been over further. He'll still be running when others have cried enough, but whether he's close enough for it to be material by that point is another question.
Tingle Creek Tips
The sick notes provided by Messrs de Grugy and Sacre have left an extremely compelling and competitive iteration of the Tingle Creek, and finding a winner is not easy.
If you're in a position to take 10/1 about Balder Succes, you obviously should. After all, 10/1 about a 2/1 shot is insane value, even if that horse should probably be nearer 4/1 (it's still 250% over the odds). He's only 6/1 with a number of firms for the Queen Mother Champion Chase itself, for pity sake!
Otherwise, I think God's Own has a good chance, but one which is accommodated by his price; Oscar Whisky looks close to a certainty for the frame if he jumps round; and Hinterland and, to a lesser degree, Third Intention, are interesting at big prices.
It is a belting betting race, and one where there might just be a whiff of value.
Value selection: Oscar Whisky 7/1 (general, but sponsors 888sport 1/4 odds 1-2-3)
Each way alternatives: Hinterland 16/1 (888sport 1/4 odds 1-2-3) - Third Intention 25/1 (PP, Hills)
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