Captain Conan in the Henry VIII novices Chase

06th December 2013

Andrew Cooper on Tingle Creek Day at Sandown Park

This Saturday is my favourite day’s jumping at Sandown Park, primarily because of the feature race, the BetVictor Tingle Creek Chase. Those years when Moscow Flyer was racing really cemented it in my working life as special. Particularly his race against Azertyioup and Well Chief in 2004, which would probably be my favourite steeplechase.

I inherited the race as a limited handicap, and while it was always successful, it is one that we have managed to take to new levels. The same could be said of the day in terms of the interest it creates and the amount of people who come to Sandown Park.

In the feature race we have one of the biggest fields, 9 runners, that we have had for some time and while sadly we don’t have Sprinter Sacre, the race looks very competitive.  The field is headed by Sire de Grugy and Captain Conan, who deputises for Sprinter Sacre.

He is an able deputy having won two Grade 1 novice chases last season and the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle the year before. He has great Sandown form and while he is behind Sire De Grugy in ratings, they are probably the best 2 mile steeplechasers around if you discount Sprinter Sacre.

Haldon Gold Cup winner Somersby won the Racing Post Henry VIII Novices Chase here a few years ago and then came back and was beaten by Sanctuaire in the Celebration Chase in April 2011. You would like to see the winner of the Haldon Gold Cup coming on to the Tingle Creek and so it is great to see him following that line. He looked as good as ever at Exeter, having really impressed as a novice and showing some smart form in between.

Also lining up is the enigmatic Mad Moose for Nigel Twiston-Davies. He is declared and obviously the intention is to run but you never know. He certainly has an amazing story and he will add colour to the race.

The Racing Post Henry VIII Novices Chase was won last year by Captain Conan and in 2011 by Al Ferof. This race has only recently been upgraded to Grade 1 and has a long history of being where the young 2 mile chasers first make an impact. You are looking for these runners to run in the Arkle at Cheltenham and be the next generation of runners in the Tingle Creek and it looks like it will be a good renewal.

Hinterland, second last year and winner of a Beginners Chase at the first fixture here this season, comes back for this race. This is one of the threads that it is nice to see running through Sandown fixture list; horses that can come back and become regulars. Over the last few years we have specialised in two mile steeplechasing and a lot of people think that the sight of 2 mile chasers going round here is unequalled in racing.

It is a very strong seven race card with a mixture of high class chasing and competitive hurdles racing including the first race, a novice hurdle we have named after the late David Johnson who has three of his old stars parading before racing. The last race of the day is the LDS London National, a long distance handicap chase which looks like being a competitive and rousing finish to the day.

Andrew Cooper is Director of Racing and Clerk of the Course at Sandown Park