Showdown – Tingle Creek Chase

Fantastic Four set for Sandown showdown

The Tingle Creek at Sandown deserves to be amongst the highlights in any racing season and Saturday’s small but select field of four promises a vintage renewal of the two-mile Grade One.

Hot on the heels of last weekend’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle, this is a proper Championship test, befitting of its status and sure to whet the appetite of jumps racing fans.

Between them, the quartet having won 30 of their 38 races over fences and here we look at their credentials.

Altior – odds 1.72

The reigning two-mile kingpin, Nicky Henderson’s eight-year-old assumed that mantle with a fine display in landing the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March. Nico de Boinville was ice-cool in the saddle after Altior momentarily looked to be in a spot of bother before the third. He’s never been beaten over jumps (14-14) and it will take something special to topple him. His trainer couldn’t be in better form with a 42% strike-rate recently and Altior is a three-time C&D scorer already.

Saint Calvados – odds 7.00

The youngster of the quartet at five-years-old, he won his first three starts over fences last term in impressive fashion, concluding with the Kingmaker at Warwick. He went to Cheltenham for the Arkle and paid a hefty price for engaging in a front-running war with Petit Mouchoir, labouring home a tired fourth. He burst the bubble of Arkle hero Footpad last month in Ireland, mature and confident out in front, and will now bid to do the same to Altior. Harry Whittington’s charge is a dangerous improver.

Sceau Royal – odds 6.50

Alan King’s charge romped to victory over C&D on this card a year ago in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase, amid a run of four wins and a narrow loss from five starts over fences. He missed the spring festivals but returned last month to win the Grade Two Shloer Chase at Cheltenham, dismissing some promising two-milers when he did. This is easily his toughest examination to date.

Un De Sceaux – odds 4.50

‘The Iron Horse’ won this race in 2016 and has bagged no less than nine Grade One/Two wins over this sort of trip with ‘soft’ in the going description. Many had the obituary penned for Un De Sceaux following his Cheltenham reverse in March, but he ended the season with successive wins in Ireland, latterly in the 2m Punchestown Champion Chase where he beat stablemate Douvan no less. Any further rain makes the Irish raider a dangerous and determined rival for this trio.