Saturday 8 December 2018

Myles McDevitt – UCFB Multimedia Sports Journalism Student 2018

It has been a fascinating few weeks for Jumps Racing. Bristol De Mai’s win in a stellar Betfair Chase line-up and Buveur d’Air  stunning victory over the highly rated Samcro last week in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle. The national hunt jamboree rolls on to Saturday with Sandown Park a particular focus.

The feature race is the Tingle Creek and one of the stars of British Horse Racing is on show as Altior returns to action. He was last seen at Sandown in April on the final day of the jumps season where he easily cruised to victory in the Celebration Chase.

At the age of 8 and the sire of former Derby winner High Chaparral, Altior’s winning CV is impressive. Over hurdles he won the Supreme Novices at the Cheltenham Festival. Two festival wins followed with wins in the Arkle Challenge Trophy in 2017 and this year on Wednesday’s showpiece event, the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

The last three visits to Sandown he has won comfortably but he has three rivals to fend off in the Tingle Creek. It is an unusually small field for the Tingle Creek. Ireland’s top trainer Willie Mullins has Un De Sceaux in the field whilst Alan King’s Sceau Royal who was ridden out well to win the Sholer Chase on his seasonal reappearance at Cheltenham in November by 2 ¼ lengths. Henry Whittington’s Saint Calvados rounds off the four that will contest the Tingle Creek.

Un De Sceaux’s last visit to Sandown was in this same race two years ago beating Sire De Grugy in a memorable contest. Since then he has kept an impressive record with his last eight appearances, he has either finished first or second with his last win coming in April at the Punchestown Festival. He is most likely to give Altior a test coming into the closing stages of the race.

Nicky Henderson has been impressed by the work of Altior stating that: “watching him schooling has been absolutely terrifying – he’s been brutal over the fences – and I don’t think [jockey] Nico [de Boinville] had ever been so fast in all his life.”

Altior’s jumping has made him one of the most highly rated chasers in the whole of the British Isles and a win on Saturday will on strengthen that claim.