The absence of both Sprinter Sacre and Sire de Grugy may have taken some of the gloss off the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase, but it has worked wonders for making the race a competitive one, with 18 chances entered.
And in fairness, it is easy to make a case of some sort for most of the field, in what promises to be a hotly contested renewal at Sandown.
Ladbrokes News’ Ben Stones has picked three to keep a close eye on in Esher.
Probably the most intriguing runner in the whole field, Willie Mullins’ charge drops down to the bare 2m for the first time in his 10-race career, having pitched him in at the highest level over further.
He won the Grade 1 Dr PJ Moriarty Chase at Leopardstown over 2m5f in February, but has come up short in his three outings when stepped up to 3m.
Interestingly, he has won all but one race at less than that distance, that one blot on his record coming when falling with the race in the bag at Fairyhouse in April.
He has the class, should have the speed and will love the testing conditions; he looks a huge price for a master trainer.
Paul Nicholls’ horse clearly loves Sandown, having won twice at the course, and finishing second on his only other foray at the track.
He won the Grade 1 novice chase on this card last season, 8l ahead of JLT Novices’ Chase winner Taquin Du Seuil, and a whopping 28l ahead of current Tingle Creek favourite Balder Succes.
The six -year-old will probably want the ground to dry out slightly to be at his best, but does handle plenty of cut in the ground.
He blew out on his seasonal reappearance in the Haldon Gold Cup, but with Nicholls’ needing a run at that time of the season, and his yard now bang in form, he shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.
The enigmatic ‘Moosey’ has developed quite a following with his ‘does what he wants’ attitude, and it is telling that connections have given him an entry in a race of this class to try again with the tough customer.
He pulled himself up before the first fence in this race 12 months ago, resulting in a ban from racing for constant misdemeanours, but he certainly doesn’t lack talent.
The Middleham Park Racing-owned gelding finished second behind Sprinter Sacre in the Clarence House Chase in 2012, ahead of the useful pair of Somersby and Sanctuaire. He has also placed at Group 3 level on the flat when running a big race at Chester.
He’s this big a price for a reason, but if Nigel Twiston-Davies’ horse decides he fancies it on Saturday, then he will more than likely outrun those tasty odds.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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