Celebration Chase Tips: Greaneteen to strike for Nicholls at Sandown

Paul Nicholls saddles two of the five runners in the Celebration Chase
Paul Nicholls saddles two of the five runners in the Celebration Chase

A field of five will go to post for the Grade 1 Celebration Chase, which takes place on bet365 Gold Cup day at Sandown Park on Saturday afternoon, and it's set to be an intriguing renewal as last year's winner Greaneteen aims to retain the crown impressively in 2021...

With six wins in the race, Paul Nicholls is the most successful trainer in the Celebration Chase, and he caused a shock in last year's race as the 13/2 shot GREANETEEN beat the mighty Altior in a thrilling finish, and the Ditcheat raider will look to retain his two-mile crown this weekend, and he is one of the favourites with the bookmakers for the prize.

The eight-year-old shaped like he could dine at the top table of the two-mile division this season when storming to victory in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park earlier in the season, but he failed to follow up when a well-beaten second to Shishkin in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton. While he was last of five in the Grade 1 Dublin Chase at Leopardstown's Dublin Racing Festival, so he is on the comeback mission this weekend.

Having bypassed the Cheltenham Festival, he will return to his favourite track Sandown, and with Nicholls sure to have him primed for this event, and with him lining up a fresh horse then he could well claim the prize once again in fine style.

Dan Skelton's Nube Negra was another not to feature in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham, and he's another fresh performer, but he was well beaten by Greaneteen in the Tingle Creek Chase earlier in the season, and he's not been seen since. A real class act on his day, he's one that will relish the likely quick ground and he showed when winning the Shloer Chase that he is a top notch performer, but he's best seen at the undulations of Prestbury Park, and a return to Sandown could see him finish behind Greaneteen again.

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Second in the 2019 renewal, Sceau Royal could only finish third in the 2021 running, so the Alan King-trained star will look to finally get his head in front in the final Grade 1 of the season, but he has some work to do on the form guide, and he's rightly third in the betting. A dual-purpose star who has switched between the hurdles and the chasing game throughout his career, Sceau Royal is a real class act on his day, but has often struggled to deliver at the highest level.

Second in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury two starts ago, the Barbury Castle inmate was last seen finishing third in the Melling Chase at Aintree. He will enjoy a return to two miles here, but ultimately he lacks the quality that Greaneteen and Nube Negra possess on their day, so Sceau Royal will have to settle for minor honours.

Rouge Vif will be the second shot fired by the Nicholls gun here, but he was well behind Nube Negra at Cheltenham back in November, while he failed to land a blow when third in the Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton last time out. Another that should enjoy a return to two miles, but has struggled to produce his best in recent seasons.

Jonjo O'Neill's Sky Pirate completes the line-up and the former Grand Annual winner failed to land a blow in that Cheltenham Festival race this season, while he was last seen being comfortably beaten in the Red Rum Handicap Chase at Aintree, so a step back up to Graded company isn't what the doctor ordered and he will find it tough here.

Celebration Chase
Greaneteen silk


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