Hen­der­son thinks Al­tior can give us all a Tin­gle

The Racing Paper - - News - By Sam Jack­son

AL­TIOR may be fac­ing only three ri­vals in the Bet­fair Tin­gle Creek Chase at Sandown, but there is a case to sug­gest it is his tough­est test to date.

Nicky Hen­der­son’s star is ar­guably the big­gest draw in Na­tional Hunt Racing, with an un­beaten run that stretches back to the Punchestown Fes­ti­val of 2015 in a bumper.

He was due to make his come­back in this race 12 months ago be­fore a set­back ruled him out – but ev­ery­thing has gone to plan this time, and it is a good job be­cause he faces Un De Sceaux, Saint Cal­va­dos and Sceau Royal.

“Al­tior is in very good form, and we are look­ing for­ward to Satur­day,” said Hen­der­son.

“We con­tem­plated run­ning in the Shloer Chase at Chel­tenham last month, but we were happy to wait for the Tin­gle Creek.

“It is shap­ing up to be a very good race, but we are de­lighted with him.”

Un De Sceaux may be ris­ing 11 but Wil­lie Mullins’ vet­eran has set the stan­dard in this divi­sion for some time, win­ning this race a cou­ple of years ago.

A real mud­lark, the ground can not be soft enough for him – so any rain that falls will be in his favour.

“Beat­ing Un De Sceaux at Chel­tenham in March is one thing, but beat­ing him in deep ground at Sandown is an­other,” said part-owner Colm O’Connell.

“If we’re ever go­ing to beat Al­tior, we know the con­di­tions we need. Ob­vi­ously there’s Sceau Royal and Saint Cal­va­dos as well – that’s what makes it so ex­cit­ing.

“Age is but a num­ber, and we’re all get­ting old. He was foaled in May, so tech­ni­cally he’s not 11 un­til May.

“This race is ex­cit­ing and good for racing – peo­ple don’t want to see 1-5 shots in Grade Ones. Be­cause of the fast ground, we seem to have seen the best horses take each other on ear­lier this sea­son – look at the Bet­fair Chase and the Fight­ing Fifth. The Tin­gle Creek looks an­other cracker.”

Alan King’s Sceau Royal was a win­ner on this card last year in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase, but he was forced to miss the Arkle with a prob­lem. He showed he was over that when re­turn­ing with a stylish vic­tory in the Shloer Chase last month.

“I’m de­lighted with him. He worked on Wed­nes­day morn­ing and schooled on Mon­day, and we’re very happy,” said King.

“I’m un­der no il­lu­sions about the task in front of us. It’s huge, tak­ing on Al­tior and the oth­ers as well – it looks like it’s go­ing to be a great race.

“We were thrilled with him at Chel­tenham. I hope he’s come on a bit for that, but he’ll need to.”

Com­plet­ing the classy quin­tet is Harry Whit­ting­ton’s trail­blazer Saint Cal­va­dos, who went to Ire­land on his sea­sonal reap­pear­ance and beat last year’s Arkle hero Foot­pad.

“We don’t have to make the run­ning and we are very happy with where we are with Saint Cal­va­dos,” said Whit­ting­ton.

“Ev­ery­thing has gone ac­cord­ing to plan, and it’s very ex­cit­ing to be tak­ing part in a race like this. We’re un­der no il­lu­sions how hard it is go­ing to be to beat Al­tior and the other two, but he de­serves his chance.

“There’ll be plenty of pace on, with us and Un De Sceaux, and it could come down to who jumps the Rail­way Fences the best. Our lad is a very slick jumper, and he’s still only five.

“The Arkle has been his only blip, and we can put a line through that now af­ter what he did in Ire­land. But he’s in with the big boys now – ar­guably one of the great­est we’ve seen over two miles – so we’re just pinch­ing our­selves.

“If he’s com­pet­i­tive and comes back in one piece, we’ll be happy be­cause it’s a tall ask for any­one to beat Al­tior.

“It looks an out­stand­ing Tin­gle Creek, and we’ll have to im­prove to be com­pet­i­tive – and even more to win it – but we’re ex­cited about be­ing in it.”

Hen­der­son star: Al­tior faces a tough test

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