Rarely has a Tingle Creek Chase been so hard to solve. With 18 currently in the running for the 2m contest at Sandown Park, it will take a lot of working out to find the winner at this stage.
But by following the trends, hopefully we have!
Three things stand out when looking over the previous two decades of the minimum distance, with these statistics aiding our attempts to narrow down the field:
- – The last 20 winners had all previously won a chase by 9+ lengths
- – 19 winners in the past two decades had already won a Grade 1 chase
- – Form looks important with just four winning having been outside the first three in their previous run
So by applying those criteria to the field we can cross a few horses off our shortlist.
Vukovar, Hinterland, Alderwood, Pepite Rose, Williams Wishes, Oscar Hill and Mad Moose fail at two of the above and are discarded from our workings, brutal stuff.
And while the quality of this field is somewhat lacking with the absence of the pair of best two milers around, we can be somewhat forgiving to those who are yet to taste success at the highest level.
What we cannot do though, with the stats doing the talking, is consider those who have not even placed in Grade 1 company over the larger obstacles.
The strongly fancied Dodging Bullets, and relative outsiders Twinlight, Claret Cloak and Third Intention fall into this category and are no longer of interest to us.
It is clear a quality performer is required to take this first Grade 1 of the season for the two milers, with 18 of the last 20 previously winning a contest over fences by 16 lengths or more.
Of our remaining sextet only three fall into this bracket.
Wishfull Thinking was a nice winner of the Old Roan Chase at Aintree on his seasonal debut, but that was over 2m4f. And with most of Philip Hobbs’ charge’s best performances coming over further he could struggle for a turn of foot, so is looked over.
God’s Own has been a revelation for Tom George. A winner of the Ryanair Novices’ Chase at the Punchestown Festival was proven not to be a fluke when he beat the likes of Somersby and Cue Card in the Haldon Gold Cup.
He’s still technically a novice and holds an entry in the Henry VII Novices’ Chase on the same day, and while he’s classy we are passing him over for a more experienced campaigner.
Instead the stats all seem to point to Nicky Henderson picking up this race, though not with the horse he would have expected at the start of the season.
OSCAR WHISKY has been pencilled in for this contest in Sprinter Sacre’s absence, and looks likely to be an able deputy.
He fits all the trends, and is two from two at Sandown, both times on his unfavoured softer ground.
Although he has mostly been campaigned over further, a record of five wins from seven outings over 2m speaks volumes, even more so when you discover those defeats were a fourth in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and a third in the Champion Hurdle.
All signs point to the Seven Barrows handler raising a nice glass of single malt to his consistent sort at Esher.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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