Tingle Creek Tips: Altior can regain control of the division

Tingle Creek Tips: Altior will be aiming to win the race for a second time.
Tingle Creek Tips: Altior will be aiming to win the race for a second time.

Nick Seddon previews Saturday’s Grade 1 Tingle Creek at Sandown, which features a mouth-watering match up between the last two winners of the Queen Mother Champion Chase

While it almost always proves to be a small field affair, the Tingle Creek is rarely short on quality, and the Grade 1 contest has produced the following year’s Champion Chase winner on no less than seven occasions this century.

The most recent horse to complete the double is the two-time champion chaser Altior in 2018-19, and this will be the second time that Nicky Henderson’s charge has made his seasonal reappearance in this contest. He will do so on something of a recovery mission after a campaign which certainly didn't go to plan last year, seeing his 19-race unbeaten run ended by Cyrname when stepped up to two and a half miles at Ascot last November.

It could be argued that it was more than the step up in trip that proved to be his undoing on that occasion, but Altior has been out on his own over two miles over the past few seasons, and he quickly bounced back when returned to that particular trip, looking like his old self when winning the Grade 2 Game Spirit Chase at Newbury in February. Injury ruled him out of the Cheltenham Festival, however, and as such there is a new name on the two-mile throne. 

That name is of course that of the Paul Nicholls-trained Politologue, who capitalised on a disappointing run from the odds-on favourite DefiI Du Seuil to pick up a deserved Festival success at the fifth attempt. Politologue is a top-class performer on his day, as he showed when winning this race in 2017, and while he ought to prove a worthy adversary for the favourite here, the pair have previous - with the head-to-head record to date reading as 3-0 in Altior's favour. 

Indeed, there aren't many horses in training who can match Altior when he is at his best, and although he is rising 11 at the end of the month, there should be some mileage left in the engine yet, considering that he's made 21 starts over obstacles in the past five years (an average of around four starts a season).

He's capable of producing top-class performances when fresh, as he showed when holding off Un De Sceaux in tough conditions here two years ago, and bearing in mind that he looked back on song when last seen in February, the 6/5-on that's currently on offer looks fair value for Altior to further extend his winning record over Politologue. 

Cheltenham Festival Tips

This is by no means a match race, however, and two graduating novices from last season will be hoping to make their present felt at this level, Rouge Vif and Greaneteen. The former was a distant third behind Put The Kettle On in the Arkle Trophy in March, but has returned an improved model so far this term, and put up a top-class performance to win a competitive-looking handicap in good style under a large weight at Cheltenham in October. That Arkle form has since been franked by Put The Kettle On in last month's Shloer Chase, and Rouge Vif deserves to take his chance here - for all that he would need to take a substantial step forward for win purposes.

Greaneteen is second preference of the Nicholls runners in the market at the time of writing, but he certainly isn’t without a chance, having improved at a rate of knots last season. Indeed, it didn’t take Greaneteen long to get the hang of things over the bigger obstacles, winning each of his first three starts in this sphere - including the Scottish Champion Chase on his second start at Musselburgh. That form is useful, and he lost little in defeat when fourth under a big weight in a highly competitive renewal of the Grand Annual at the Festival in March. He produced his best effort yet when winning the Haldon Gold Cup in determined style on reappearance at Exeter last month, but would need more once again to trouble both Altior and his stablemate Politologue.

The field is completed by Brewin’upastorm and Castlegrace Paddy. Like the aforementioned pair, Brewin’upastorm was a smart novice last season, winning his first two starts over fences at Carlisle and Taunton respectively in thee autumn, before unseating his rider at four out on his next start in the Arkle. He’s certainly entitled to take his chance here based on some of his best form, but he struggled on reappearance in the Colin Parker at Carlisle last month, and would had to have come on a great deal for that outing to be competitive here.

Finally, Castlegrace Paddy is a smart performer on his day, twice winning over this trip at Grade 2 level, but he’s been held on each of his six previous starts at the top level, and looks out of his depth in a warm renewal. With that in mind, it is Altior who makes the most appeal at the prices, and he's a confident vote to win this for a second time.

Selection

Tingle Creek, Sandown, Saturday 5th December - back Altior at 5/6

Tingle Creek
Altior silk

Altior

Non-Runner
Cheltenham Festival Races
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