Fantastic Four Set for Tingle Creek Battle

Sandown RacecourseDe La Soul rapped that ‘Three is the Magic Number’ in their seminal 1990 hit which reached number seven in the UK pop charts.

You can forgive Theresa May for disagreeing, however, after a calamitous Tuesday in the House of Commons in which she was defeated on a trio of key matters.

Firstly, her fellow MPs found the government to be in contempt of Parliament after failing to publish the full legal advice given ahead of Brexit, with just a summary provided.

Then a vote on parliamentary powers should the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal be rejected came back 321 to 299 in favour, meaning that the PM would have to return to the House to seek the support of fellow politicians before her next move is made.

And another governmental compromise was voted down to make it a hat-trick of defeats. It was a dark day for the progression of the Brexit negotiations, and perhaps a sign that Theresa May’s lack of power in the Commons is now terminal.

It will be intriguing to see how that all unfolds ahead of the big vote on December 11.

Three proved not to be the magic number for the PM on Tuesday, but over at Sandown Park it’s four that has got the horse racing community a-flutter.

That’s how may horses have been declared for the fantastic Tingle Creek Chase, Saturday’s flagship renewal.

Tingle Creek Chase Racecard

With only a quartet of runners, you would think it would be easy to back a winner and bolster the pre-Christmas spending account (or the drinks kitty, if you’re of the mind).

But not so: these are four outstanding horses, all of whom are genuine contenders to add their name to a trophy that includes such legends as Desert Orchid, Moscow Flyer, Kauto Star and Sprinter Sacre.

Here’s a look at each in turn, and their chances of landing a prestigious Group 1 title.

Altior (8/11)

With 15 wins in 17, Altor is firmly established as one of the finest two-milers on the planet.

The eight-year-old has won the Arkle and the Queen Mother Champion Chase, amongst other ‘majors’, and Nicky Henderson can lay claim to training a horse that appears almost unbeatable on his day. He hasn’t lost since April 2015; a remarkable run given the quality of company he generally keeps.

A three-time winner at Sandown, Altior claimed the Celebration Chase here back in April; a Grade 1 outing in which he started a 2/11 favourite with the bookmakers.

That came after he demolished Min by seven lengths at Cheltenham, and earlier in 2018 he defeated the reigning Tingle Creek champion – Politologue – by four lengths at Newbury.

In short, he’s going to take some stopping on Saturday. Has the rest of the field got the class to end his three-year spell of domination?

Un De Sceaux (5/1)

After an off-day at the Cheltenham Festival that had punters tearing their hair out, Un de Sceaux rallied with two decent showings in April to at least end his campaign on a high.

The ten-year-old was odds-on to win the Ryanair Chase at the festival, but was comfortably beaten by Balko Des Flos in the end to become a destructive coupon-wrecker for punters up and down the land.

But he recovered quickly to beat both Douvan and Min in the Champion Chase at Punchestown, and that should serve as a reminder of his talents.

The rain, which is set to buffet the UK over the next 48 hours, is also in his favour, with soft ground acting as the perfect leveller in the task of dethroning Altior.

Un De Sceaux has tons of big race pedigree, with an Arkle, three Clarence Houses ad a Ryanair Chase on his CV, and he also won this very race back in 2016.

Sceau Royal (11/2)

When You have a novice graduating to the big time you don’t always know what to expect, but the early signs suggest that Sceau Royal has what it takes to be a major contender over two miles.

Since the winter of 2017 six starts have yielded five victories, and it was on this very track where he triumphed in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase over Finian’s Oscar, amongst others.

A winner of the Cheltenham Chase in November, a renewal formerly won by Fox Norton and Sprinter Sacre, there is a clear lineage for Sceau Royal to achieve great things over fences.

Will that run start here? Perhaps not, but it will be intriguing to see how he weighs up against the almighty Altior.

Saint Calvados (6/1)

To give you an idea of the strength of this field, the bookies’ outsider is a horse who bested the Arkle champion in his last start.

Saint Calvados took the spoils in the Poplar Square Chase over Footpad, amongst others, and that was a clue that this young horse has the world at his hooves.

It shows a marked improvement too, given that the five-year-old was miles back in fourth in the Arkle, and the French horse – like Sceau Royal – could be completely outclassed here or produce a huge shock result. We simply don’t know how good he is….