The Tingle Creek 2m Chase is the Highlight of Saturday’s Sandown card. Unfortunately the race has received a bitter blow with the withdrawal of last year's race winner – Sprinter Sacre. Undoubtedly his absence has taken something away from the spectacle, however it now offers greater appeal from a bettiing perspective. Time to take full advantage!
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Nine runners line up for this Grade 1 chase with the markets headed by the Gary Moore trained Sire De Grugy (9/4 Ladbrokes). Highest rated on official figures, this horse has had two outings this year; firstly at Chepstow where he was a very impressive winner of a good quality handicap, and most recently at Cheltenham where he fell pray to the late run of Kid Cassidy. That last run wasn’t particularly impressive on the jumping front as he made early errors before settling down late on. The sharp Sandown track coupled with its testing fences could well be too much for this horse and a repeat of lacklustre jumping shown last time out could prove costly. The Moore team have long stated that this horse is full of ability, something which is sure to be fully tested here up against these rivals
Although Sprinter Sacre doesn’t take his place in the field, Nicky Henderson is represented by the useful 6 year-old CAPTAIN CONAN (5/2 Betfred). Only beaten once as a novice last season (came 5th in the Jewson at the Festival), he showed good form in picking up two Grade 1 novice events at Sandown and also another at Aintree where he comfortably accounted for some good sorts over 2m4f. Although a multiple winner over further, a stiff 2m seems to suit him best and the quick ground could also be a benefit thanks to how well he travels and jumps. Captain Conan has beaten Sire De Grugy on previous form and has a very good chance of doing so again. One slight concern is the fact that this will be his first outing of the season. Nicky Henderson’s horses have been in terrific form of late (both My Tent Or Yours winning the Fighting Fifth and Triolo D’Alene winning the Hennessy last weekend) however this season they have tended to need their first runs. Provided this horse has been fully wound up he will is certain to run a good race.
Third in the market is Somersby (5/2 Coral). On a literal reading of his form with Cue Card, this horse should be a very short priced favourite for this race as he beat Cue Card in the Haldon Gold Cup by over 6 lengths. Although Cue Card has since gone on to impressively win the Betfair Chase he was giving Somersby 17lbs that day and looked as if he would come on considerably for the run. Nevertheless Somersby is a previous Grade 1 winner (won the Victor Chandler Chase in 2012) and has often come up against Sprinter Sacre in the 2m division. This is undoubtedly an easier proposition than facing Sprinter Sacre however, Somersby may well struggle off level weights against some improving young horses.
Paul Nicholls has won this race 6 times in the last 8 renewals so any runner of his must be considered. This year however, he saddles Kauto Stone (12/1 Betfred) who was last seen finishing 28 lengths behind the winner in a Grade 1 event at Down Royal over 3 miles. His lack of experience over this minimum trip is a definite concern and he may well struggle to have the tactical speed necessary to enter contention.
The others all have a lot to find on all known form to enter calculations. His Excellency (25/1 Coral), Oiseau De Nuit (16/1 Betfred), Tataniano (33/1 Coral) and Mad Moose (50/1 Ladbrokes) are all held by Sire De Grugy on their last runs and will struggle to reverse that form. Finally, Viva Colonia (40/1 Coral) was disappointing when finishing sixth of seven last time out in a Class 2 handicap, this will be far tougher.
Although Sire De Grugy impressed on his first start of the season, this track and the ground are unlikely to suit him. These conditions coupled with his often lazy jumping style are more than enough reasons to oppose the favourite. Conversely, CAPTAIN CONAN seems to have the ideal conditions in which to continue his impressive record from last year. He’s a big brut of a horse who travels well in his races and has the precise jumping ability to put his rivals under pressure. The demands of Sandown seem to play into his hands and he looks like a worthy substitute for the Seven Barrows team.
CAPTAIN CONAN (WIN) (5/2 Betfred)
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