Who's going to win the Tingle Creek Chase?
Saturday’s Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown (due off 3.00pm) has been shorn of its star attraction Un De Sceaux, but it’s a decent renewal nonetheless.
While last season’s brilliant Arkle winner will not be travelling over from Ireland (a “little flat in himself”, according to his trainer), we still have Simonsig – the 2013 Arkle winner – and Vibrato Valtat, who was fourth to Un De Sceaux in March, heading an eight-runner field that also includes the likes of Special Tiara, Sire De Grugy, Somersby and Mr Mole – all established class acts in the two-mile chasing scene.
Bookmakers are agreed in making the Paul Nicholls-trained VIBRATO VALTAT their favourite at around the 2/1 mark and it’s hard to argue with that. A smart novice last term when winning half of his eight starts, he looked to have improved again when winning the Haldon Gold Cup on his reappearance and his four-length winning margin over the reopposing Third Intention would have been doubled at least had he not made a mistake at the last and not got to the front so early.
Sam Twiston-Davies is likely to ride a more patient race on the six-year-old with a view to producing him on the long uphill run-in, and the race could be set up for him. Irish raider Special Tiara loves to set a strong gallop and they never got to him when he won the Celebration Chase here in April, with Vibrato Valtat back in fourth. However, the latter did well to finish as close that day as he did after being hampered and may have been over the top anyway. He can reverse the form here.
A bigger danger accordion the betting is Nicky Henderson’s Simonsig, who made a satisfactory return after a 32-month layoff when finishing second over hurdles at Haydock (2m4f). He was tenderly ridden that day to say the least and looked to be cruising turning in, only for him to be outstayed (?) by stablemate Bobs Worth. It’s hard to know what to make of that form and the winner hardly franked it in last weekend’s Hennessy, so the jury is still out on whether he is back to his brilliant best. Besides, a speed contest back over the minimum trip might not be what this King George entry needs. UPDATE – Simonsig has been declared a non-runner after being found to be lame on Friday.
Of the rest, the 2013 winner Sire De Grugy has a lot to do having finished well behind Vibrato Valtat at Exeter and I hate to say it, his best days maybe behind him. Somersby on the other hand is keeping his form remarkably well at the age of 11, though he was no match for a rejuvenated Sprinter Sacre at Cheltenham last time. With regular pilot Brian Hughes on duty elsewhere, connections have booked Nina Carberry and, while she’s never ridden at Sandown, her style could suit the horse. Given he’s finished runner-up in the last two Tingle Creeks, he looks the one for each-way backers at BetVictor’s 12/1 with three places up for grabs.
The selection’s stablemate Mr Mole is worth a mention and it can be argued that he’s a shade overpriced at the 14/1 on offer. He was after all sent off at just 5/1 against Sprinter Sacre last time when with hindsight he had an impossible task trying to give that horse 10lb and at a track he has never performed well at. However, he might be best caught fresh and I’ll be surprised if he’s good enough. The same comment applies to Josses Hill, who will surely need his first run back besides.
Anyone thinking of joining me in backing Vibrato Valtat might be best advised to wait until Saturday morning when the traditional price war will take place, though the current 9/4 is far from shabby.
Vibrato Valtat @ 9/4 Paddy Power