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Runner-by-runner guide to the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Fri 3 Dec 2021

December is upon us and Willie Mullins is going to be desperate to get his mighty team back up to full speed.

A dry autumn has definitely impacted on the master trainer’s usual dominance. Nineteen winners from 92 runners in Ireland during October and November would be a source of satisfaction for most, but Mullins operates at a different level and there’s little doubt his squad is not yet operating at anywhere near maximum power.

Last year, for instance, Mullins enjoyed twice as many winners during the same period from 171 runners. And the year before that, he enjoyed 43 victories from 229.

In the past decade, he’s never had fewer than 26 winners during October and November, and in those years (2012 and 2016) his strike-rate in November was 38 per cent and 43 per cent.

Before this season, Mullins’ yearly November strike-rate percentages in Ireland since 2011 have been 42%, 38%, 35%, 28%, 41%, 43%, 38%, 24%, 31% and 39% - and usually from a much higher pool of runners than this time around.

This autumn, despite a yard of horses that is envy of all, it’s down at 19% - hinting strongly that plenty of his runners have been short of their peak and needing their comeback runs. By contrast, Gordon Elliott fired home 50 winners from 264 runners in October and November.

I've no doubt it will soon be business as usual at Closutton and once the floodgates open there is unlikely to be any stopping them. But are the stats a concern for Chacun Pour Soi, ante-post favourite for the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park on Saturday?

You can hardly view it as a positive, for all that the highest-rated two-mile chaser in training has apparently had this Grade One showpiece on his agenda for a while. Of course, he could possibly run below form and still beat his four rivals, given that the official ratings indicate he is at least 8lb superior to each of them.

Keep in mind, too, that Mullins is juggling various horses this weekend, with Chacun Pour Soi also engaged in the Hilly Way at Cork on Sunday. He’s a trainer renowned for considering all his options right up until theb final moment, and no doubt he will also have one eye on the weather.

Here’s a guide to all the potential runners. And don't forget you can watch what happens live on Racing TV.


1 CAPTAIN GUINNESS

Trainer: Henry de Bromhead. Timeform rating: 171. Odds: 10-1

De Bromhead tells Kevin O'Ryan more about Captain Guinness after his win at Naas

Apparently, it takes 119.5 seconds to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. You can imagine the equine version impressing for at least that long because he’s a bold jumper who races exuberantly. He put up a polished display when winning on his return at Naas, when he settled better than is sometimes the case. Last season’s Arkle third is going to need a personal best to be involved but the suspicion is that we have not seen the best of him.


2 CHACUN POUR SOI

Trainer: Willie Mullins. Timeform rating: 193. Odds: 13-8

Chacun Pour Soi thumps Allaho and Nube Negra at Punchestown. A reproduction of this form would make him very hard to beat

He’s looked imperious for much of the past two seasons, including on his final start last term at Punchestown when thumping Allaho and Nube Negra. The handicapper makes this his race to lose – he’s rated between 8lb and 22lb super to his rivals – but his defeat in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March remains something of a head-scratcher and then there’s the fact that the Mullins team is opening below its peak. Good going would also be a question mark, given he’s never raced on ground quicker than good to soft. With regular rider Paul Townend on the sidelines, Patrick Mullins deputises.


3 GREANETEEN

Trainer: Paul Nicholls. Timeform rating: 177. Odds: 11-4

Paul Nicholls spoke to Tom Stanley about Greaneteen after his Celebration Chase success

He chased home Politiologue in last year’s renewal, plus conquered Altior in the Celebration Chase back here in April, so Sandown clearly suits him. And in between he was a close fourth in the Champion Chase when finishing on the heels of Nube Negra and Chacun Pour Soi. Paul Nicholls had warned he would need his comeback run at Exeter and, likely to be much sharper, he cannot be ruled out. Goodish ground serves him well and a dry week would aid his cause.


4 HITMAN

Trainer: Paul Nicholls. Timeform rating: 168p. Odds: 15-2

Hitman impressed for much of the Haldon Gold Cup

The youngest member of the line-up was among last season’s top novices, his efforts including chasing home Allmankind in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase on this card last year. Was unable to get the job finished off a mark of 151 in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter on his return but the manner in which he jumped/travelled suggested, for 95 per cent of the race, that he could make his mark at a higher level. Worth a second look at the 14-1 offered by William Hill although, for each-way purposes, they are offering only two places (Betfair are going three).


5 NUBE NEGRA

Trainer: Dan Skelton. Timeform rating: 182. Odds: 13-8

Dan Skelton told Niall Hannity about Nube Negra's winning return

Took his form to a new level last season when beating Altior at Kempton before finishing runner-up in the Champion Chase, looking a tad unlucky. Signed off with a below-par run at Punchestown but straight back in the groove when a fluent winner of the Shleor Chase at Cheltenham on his return, when picking off the front-running Politologue. Fit, in-form and you would imagine the forecast dryish week will suit him better than Chacun Pour Soi.


ANDY’S VERDICT

An intriguing renewal. Chacun Pour Soi will take some stopping provided he gets the green light to run and is somewhere near his best but Nube Negra has less doubts hanging over him and, after a slick return at Cheltenham, makes more appeal. Confidence in him would be increased if the ground, currently good, good to soft in places on the chase course, remains as it is. Greaneteen and Hitman give Paul Nicholls a strong hand, with the latter likely to outrun his ante-post odds of 14-1.

1 NUBE NEGRA 2 CHACUN POUR SOI 3 HITMAN

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