Champion National Hunt trainer, Paul Nicholls, will be doubly represented in this Saturday’s Grade One Tingle Creek Chase over two miles at Sandown Park as he attempts to win the race for a sixth year running.
One of his runners is Tataniano, winner of the Grade One Maghull Novices Chase at Aintree last season. He has already been in the winner’s enclosure this term after bolting up in a valuable Handicap Chase at Chepstow in October after making all. Significantly perhaps he will have stable jockey, Ruby Walsh on board, who has chosen him over the other Ditcheat entry, Kauto Stone, half brother to brilliant stable star, Kauto Star.
French import Kauto Stone only joined Nicholls at the end of last season and repaid him with a magnificent winning debut success in the Grade 2 Ladbrokes.com Chase over 2½ miles at Down Royal a month ago. The five year old won that race with plenty in hand and had the well backed favourite, Blazing Tempo, the 2011 Galway Plate winner who was receiving 8lbs, over 14 lengths back in third place. He will have Sam Thomas on board on Saturday, but as yet he has failed to win the confidence of the punters, probably due to him trying a fast two mile trip hence his odds of 13/2, whereas, Tataniano is currently second favourite at 7/2.
The 7/4 antepost favourite to win this race on Saturday is Queen Mother Champion Chase winner, Sizing Europe. The nine year old should be absolutely spot on after his second place behind Quito De La Roque in the Grade One JN Wine Chase over three miles last month at Down Royal. The drop back in trip will definitely be in his favour think most pundits.
Trainer, Henry De Bromhead is still uncertain whether to keep Sizing Europe to the shorter distances and a tilt at a second Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival as the season’s main target. However, there is an option for the King George VI Chase over three miles at Kempton on Boxing Day and he also has an entry for the Grade One John Durkan Memorial Chase over 2½ miles at Punchestown in a fortnights time and his form over this two mile trip marks him out as clearly the horse to beat in this.
Also in the reckoning is the Phillip Hobbs trained Wishfull Thinking, last seen weakening when running well for a long time in the Grade 3 Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham last month. The drop back in trip should suit the speedy 8 year old, but whether he will be just a little short of class to get the better of Sizing Europe remains to be seen. Like Kauto Stone, he too has had Blazing Tempo behind, in fact he was in receipt of 21lbs from the Willie Mullins trained seven year old, but was still over four lengths clear when winning the very valuable Mick the Tent Memorial Novice Handicap Chase at the Punchestown Festival in May. Wishfull Thinking will undoubtedly come on for the run in the ‘Paddy Power’ and should be a major challenger in Saturday’s race.
The only other entry that has attracted antepost money is the Nick Williams trained, Gauvain, who warmed up for this run with a 16 length victory in the Shloer Chase over two miles at Cheltenham three weeks ago. He ran in this race last year in fact but was no match for the winner, Master Minded, finishing over 21 lengths behind. He has been tried at Grade One level several times, but without success and his eighth place in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival back in March, is form that gives him little chance in this.