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2017 Tingle Creek betting tips: Overlooked contender can produce another Special Sandown performance

Noel Fehily celebrates after guiding Special Tiara (right) to victory over Fox Norton (left) in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham (credit: GettyImages)

Our expert takes a look through the betting for this Grade One at Sandown and provides readers with his tips on Saturday 9th December.

The Tingle Creek is always one of the most exciting events during the first half of the jumps racing season and several stars of the sport have enhanced their burgeoning reputations in this Grade One. Champion Chasers like Moscow Flyer, Viking Flagship and Sprinter Sacre have all claimed victory in this historic race, with Desert Orchid and Kauto Star winning the Tingle Creek en-route to landing the Cheltenham Gold Cup that very same season.

This year’s renewal gained extra precedence when Willie Mullins announced this would be the scene of Douvan’s (4/5 Coral) seasonal reappearance. Everyone inside Prestbury Park was expecting the seven-year-old to extend his unbeaten record into a 15th race when he lined up in the Champion Chase. However, Ruby Walsh’s mount never looked totally comfortable and drifted back through the field on the sprint to the line.

It was discovered Douvan had suffered a small stress fracture of the pelvis during the early stages of that race, but Willie Mullins seems confident his star chaser is back to full fitness. The Hilly Way Chase at Cork remains a possibility and some won’t be convinced he will appear at Sandown until he trots out on Saturday morning. If Douvan does make the trip to England and he’s completely recovered from that injury, he will be incredibly difficult to beat.

As Douvan dropped tamely through the pack at Cheltenham, Special Tiara (25/1 Paddy Power) held strong at the front of the field to claim an memorable victory in the Champion Chase. That was a third Grade One victory in what has been a sparkling career for Henry De Bromhead’s front-runner and a decent showing on his reappearance could set him up nicely for the rest of the season.

Fox Norton (5/2 Ladbrokes) tried valiantly to catch Special Tiara at the head of the field at Cheltenham, but the finishing line came a couple of strides too soon. Colin Tizzard’s charge then went to Aintree and cruised to victory in the Melling Chase, before upsetting Un De Sceaux (10/1 Paddy Power) in the Champion Chase at Punchestown two weeks later.

Bryan Cooper took the ride on Fox Norton for the first time in the Shloer Chase last month. The duo made light of some difficult ground conditions to beat Cloudy Dream and Special Tiara by the best part of nine lengths. His current Cheltenham target looks like being the Ryanair Chase, but if he can push a fully-fit Douvan over two miles, a return to the Champion Chase would become a serious option.

Ruby Walsh guiding Douvan back towards the paddock after their high-profile flop in the Champion Case.

After a couple of uncompetitive runs at Cheltenham and Auteuil in 2016, Un De Sceaux had a few doubters to prove wrong heading into last season. A narrow victory over Sire De Grugy here at Sandown was followed by a stylish victory in the the Clarence House and any doubters dissipated after that wonderful victory from the front of the field in the Ryanair. 

With Douvan likely to be Mullins’ leading light this year, Un De Sceaux could enter the Hilly Way or the John Durkan Memorial this weekend, but it would be nice to see him given the chance to retain his crown if something was to fall foul of the favourite during the build-up.

Paul Nicholls is the leading trainer when it comes to Tingle Creek wins and Politologue (6/1 Ladbrokes) will be trying to land the Ditcheat maestro a tenth win in this prestigious race. He struggled to get into the JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham, finishing ten lengths behind Yorkhill in fourth, but looked to be on his way to a Festival win at Aintree before falling at the last in the Maghull. He won well on his reappearance in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter, but it’s doubtful whether he will be up to scratch in Grade One company.

Charbel (25/1 Paddy Power) suffered a high-profile tumble of his own in the Arkle at Cheltenham, where he was pushing Altior like no-one managed during the entire season. It was clear that fall had affected his confidence at Aintree, as he finished third in the Maghull after a terrible round of jumping. He gave away weight to all his rivals on his reappearance in the Elite Hurdle and did quite well to finish fourth, but this will be the biggest test he has faced so far during his career.

Anyone who watched Ar Mad (18/1 Coral) destroy Bristol De Mai in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase on this day in 2015 would have been sure they had just witnessed a star being born. Sadly, Gary Moore has had troubles getting his star back to peak form and fitness and the seven-year-old has only been seen twice since the start of 2016. He was pulled up on his reappearance in the Haldon Gold Cup and it’s hard to make a case for him improving on the fourth-place finish he managed in last season’s renewal.

Sir Valentino (33/1 Paddy Power) always seems to be an overlooked contender whenever he appears and Tom George’s chaser has managed to win three times in the last two seasons carrying double-figured prices. Victory on his most recent run has helped him reach a career-high rating of 162, but his record outside handicap company isn’t the best.

Fox Norton (right) jumps with Un De Sceaux (left) before beating him to the Punchestown Champion Chase.

Ordinary World (33/1 Coral) will join Special Tiara on the trip over from Henry De Bromhead’s yard. He seems to have become a specialist at finishing second over recent seasons and it would be a huge ask for him to end his five-race winless run this weekend.

San Benedeto (40/1 Ladbrokes) capitalised on Politologue’s fall to win the Maghull last summer, but he doesn’t start hitting top form until the second half of the season. Kerry Lee’s Top Gamble (50/1 Coral) ran a good race to finish fourth in the Champion Chase but his odds suggest he will struggle when he steps back into Grade One company on Saturday.

Douvan is one of the best horses on the planet and, if his pelvic injury has completely healed, his rivals will have their work cut out. That being said, Fox Norton has proven on several occasions he can beat the best over two miles and he has form and fitness firmly on his side.

Whilst the market leaders hold the greatest appeal, Champion Chaser SPECIAL TIARA has been completely overlooked in the current ante-post betting and he warrants a sizeable each-way wager.

There was an element of luck to that famous Festival triumph, but Noel Fehily’s mount still had to show pace and power in abundance to hold Fox Norton at bay and claim a top honours. The ground at Cheltenham on his reappearance was far from ideal, but the ten-year-old looked as game and as plucky as ever, finishing within a neck of progressive runner-up Cloudy Dream.

This will be Special Tiara’s fifth visit to Sandown and he’s yet to run a bad race. A six-length victory over a below-par Sprinter Sacre in the 2015 Celebration Chase is undoubtedly his best result, but a runner-up finish to Altior in last year’s renewal and second and third place finishes in previous renewals of the Tingle Creek are finishes not to be ignored.

The size of Special Tiara’s heart has never been in question and he will be up for the fight once again on Saturday. Any horse who can win the Champion Chase, the Celebration Chase, the Maghull and the Desert Orchid Chase twice must be considered a chaser of the highest calibre. At his current price, he offers stacks of each-way value, especially if the ground comes up good.

9/12/2017 2:55pm Sandown Tingle Creek Chase selection – SPECIAL TIARA each-way (25/1 Paddy Power)

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2017 Tingle Creek betting tips: Overlooked contender can produce another Special Sandown performance

Our expert takes a look through the betting for this Grade One at Sandown and provides readers with his tips on Saturday 9th December.

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