Sandown Tingle Creek Chase Day Betting Tips - 7th December 2019

The temperature may be plummeting as we head into December, but from a National Hunt Racing perspective, the winter months represent the time of year when things really begin to heat up. Barely a weekend goes by without a top class jumps card on offer from December until the climactic Cheltenham Festival in March. And early December sees the Esher venue of Sandown do its bit, as the track stages one of its biggest cards of the year under either code.

There is something for just about everyone on this cracking card; from the two mile novices, to the battle-hardened stayers in the closing London National contest. It is of course the two Grade 1 events which really light up the action though, headlined by the Tingle Creek Chase itself – an event which has been landed by some of the real all-time greats over the years, including the likes of Altior, Sprinter Sacre and Desert Orchid.

 

About the Tingle Creek Festival

The month of December brings Christmas decorations, panicked shopping and more than a few National Hunt meetings taking place at venues around the country. One such example is the Tingle Creek Festival at Sandown Park, which sounds as though it could be named after one of Santa’s helpers but is actually named in honour of the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase.

When Christmas racing rolls around it’s always a good excuse to put on a big wooly jumper before heading trackside to see what entertainment the racing can offer. At Sandown Park they also build an Alpine ski lodge to add that sense of something festive taking place.

Whilst the Saturday is the feature day of the meeting, the Friday still has plenty of racing to offer that you’ll want to get involved with.

Fridays at Christmas meetings are often filed with people out for their office Christmas party, so you can expect a raucous atmosphere and drinks to be flowing. The opening day of the Festival is no exception.

If the Friday of the meeting is all about office Christmas parties then the Saturday is a curious mix of families and serious racegoers. The former is because the festive feeling is everywhere to be seen in Sandown Park, whilst the latter is because of the two Grade 1 races that the day offers.

Tingle Creek Festival Race List

Here’s a look at the full race cards for both days of Sandown's Tingle Creek Festival.

RacePrize MoneyAgesObstacles
Day One - Tingle Creek Friday
Introductory Juvenile Hurdle £20,000 3 Years Old 8 hurdles
Handicap Chase £15,879 4 Years Old + 13 fences
Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase £15,879 4 Years Old + 17 fences
Winter Novices’ Hurdle £30,000 4 Years Old + 9 hurdles
Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase £15,873 4 Years Old + 22 fences
Novices’ Handicap Hurdle £11,400 3 Years Old + 8 hurdles
Day Two – Tingle Creek Saturday
"National Hunt" Novices’ Hurdle £10,000 4 Years Old + 8 hurdles
Mares’ Handicap Hurdle £15,879 3 Year Old + Fillies & Mares 9 hurdles
Pertemps Handicap Hurdle £20,000 4 Years Old + 12 hurdles
Henry VIII Novices’ Chase £55,000 4 Years Old + 13 fences
December Handicap Hurdle £60,000 4 Years Old + 8 hurdles
Tingle Creek Chase £150,000 4 Years Old + 13 fences
London National Handicap Chase £50,000 5 Years Old + 24 fences

As always, the races that are run can be changed at any time, but this at least gives you a decent idea of what you can expect to see should you attend the event or watch on TV.

The Key Races

As with every meeting, there are some races that are a little bit more relevant than others. That’s not to say that the rest are filler, but rather that when a Grade 1 race is run the horse racing world wants to know all about it. Here’s a look at the key races from the Tingle Creek Festival:

Tingle Creek Chase

There’s nowhere else to start but with the race that gives the event its name. First run in 1979, the great and good of the horse racing world have won this race over the years. Run over one mile, seven furlongs and one hundred and nineteen yards, the race is for horses aged four and up with the following weight information at play:

  • 4-year-olds: 11 stone 1 pound
  • 5-year-olds and up: 11 stone 7 pounds
  • Fillies and mares get a 7 pound allowance

Run right-handed on the turf, the Tingle Creek Chase is a Grade 1 race that features thirteen fences during its running. It was named in honour of Tingle Creek, who was a popular jump horse in the 1970s. It was a handicap race until 1994, at which point it was given its Grade 1 status.

In terms of the great and the good having won the race in the past, we’re not exaggerating. Names such as Desert Orchid, Viking Flagship, Kauto Star and Master Minded have all been added to the winner’s list over the years. That should give you an indication that this race isn’t a pleasant little runaround but rather a tough test of a jumper’s ability to cut it at the highest level.

Whilst Waterloo Boy, Twist Magic, Sound Man, Sire de Grugy, News King, Moscow Flyer, Long Engagement and the aforementioned Master Minded and Kauto Star have all won the race twice, the leading horse in the race is Flagship Uberalles thanks to three wins in succession between 1999 and 2001. The 2000 race actually took place at Cheltenham at a slightly longer distance, too.

Given that Master Minded also won the Queen Mother Champion Chase and Melling Chase during his career, Kauto Star added two Gold Cups at the Cheltenham Festival to his roster and Desert Orchid won the Gold Cup, Irish Grand National and King George VI Chase, it’s entirely fair to think that the winner of this race will almost certainly go on to greater things if they haven’t done so already. This is a proper horse race.

It’s not just the best horses that take this race serious, either. The likes of Barry Geraghty, Jamie Moore and Ruby Walsh have all won the race more than once, with Richard Dunwoody leading the way as the race’s most successful jockey thanks to five wins during his career. It’s a similar situation with trainers when you bear in mind that David Nicholson, Nicky Henderson, Fred Winter, Edward O’Grady and Jessica Harrington have all won it more than once, but none can touch Paul Nicholls’ ten wins between 1999 and 2017.

Henry VIII Novices' Chase

Lots of racecourses are delighted when they have one Grade 1 event to offer, so you can imagine the pleasure of Sandown Park that they can give people two on the same day. The Henry VIII Novices’ Chase is, as the name suggests, open to novice horses that are aged four or over with the following weight information:

  • 4-year-olds: 10 stone 10 pounds
  • 5-year-olds and up: 11 stone 2 pounds
  • Filles and mares get a 7 pound allowance

Run right-handed over one mile, seven furlongs and one hundred and nineteen yards, the race features thirteen fences that must be negotiated by the participants if they’re hoping to get across the finish line first. King Henry VIII commandeered Esher to user as a royal hunting ground in the sixteenth century, which is why this race is named in his honour.

It was a Grade 2 race prior to 2011, which is when it was given its Grade 1 status. Despite being a race for novice chasers, horses still need to boast some decent ability over jumps to be able to get on the winners' roster for this one. Obviously no horse has won it more than once but the likes of Thisthatandtother, Contraband, Al Ferof and Altior have been victorious in the past.

Al Ferof, of course, won the November Gold Cup at Cheltenham in 2012, the year after he won this race, and was successful in the Amlin 1965 Chase and the Peterborough Chase in the years that followed. Altior, on the other hand, won this in 2016 before going on to win the likes of the Arkle Challenge Trophy, three Celebration Chases and the Queen Mother Champion Chase twice. That’s to say nothing of his Tingle Creek Chase win in 2018, proving that it’s worth making a note of how well a horse does in this race for future reference.

Adrian Maguire, Daryl Jacob, Noel Fehily, Ruby Walsh and Timmy Murphy have all been successful jockeys in this race twice, though Richard Dunwoody and Tony McCoy outstrip them all with three wins apiece. It’s similarly interesting for the trainers, given that Alan King, David Nicholson, Henrietta Knight and Nicky Henderson have all won it more than once but can’t compete with the seven wins that Paul Nicholls managed between 1998 and 2018.

Winter Novices’ Hurdle

The final race worth drawing your attention to that is run during the Tingle Creek Festival is the Winter Novices’ Hurdle. It’s a Grade 2 race for horses aged four and over. Run over two miles, three furlongs and one hundred and seventy-three yards, the race is aimed at novice hurdlers and has nine jumps for them to negotiate during its running.

Prior to 1992 it was run over two miles, five furlongs and seventy-five yards, being lengthened to two mile and six furlongs from 1992 to 1999 before taking on its current length. You might know the race as the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle, give that that’s what it was called between 2011 and 2016 when it was sponsored by Neptune Investment Management. The Ballymore Group took on sponsorship responsibility in 2017.

The fact it’s for novices means that it’s never been won by the same horse more than once, but some interesting names have been into the winner’s enclosure in the past. It was one of the first major races that See More Business won, for example, before going on to add the likes of the King George VI Chase, the Betfair Bowl and, of course, the Cheltenham Gold Cup to his list of accolades.

Similarly Barton won this in 1998 and then a series of top-class hurdles in the years after. The likes of the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle and the Mildmay Novices’ Chase were all won by him during his career. The same can be said of Inglis Drever, who won this in 2003, the Champion Hurdle Trial in 2005 and the World Hurdle in 2005, 2007 and 2008. Perhaps the best known name is that of Neptune Collonges, who was successful in this race in 2005 before winning the Grand National seven years later.

In other words, make sure you keep a note of who won this race in your big black book of horse information! There have also been some decent jockeys who have stood on the winner’s podium at the end of the race. Barry Geraghty was the man on Neptune Collonges in 2005 before winning again with Vyta Du Roc in 2015, for example. Jamie Osborne and Peter Scudamore have both won it twice, too. Yet it’s Wayne Hutchinson, Tony McCoy and Richard Johnson who sit pretty at the top of the pile with three wins apiece.

This is the only one of the key races that Paul Nicholls can’t claim to be the overwhelming leader on the training front for. He’s got three wins to his name, but that’s not enough to beat Alan King’s five victories between 2008 and 2018. Jim Old, Jonjo O’Neill, Martin Pipe, Nicky Henderson and Philip Hobbs have also won the race more than once to date.