Did you know that only one horse aged 10 or above has ever won the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase? Timeform's Adam Houghton discusses the key trends and talking points ahead of the latest edition of the race at Sandown on Saturday...
"...the standout contender in this year’s renewal with a Timeform rating of 175+..."
Timeform on Altior
Smart Stat - Only one horse aged 10 or above has been successful in the race's history
Six-year-olds have the best record in the Tingle Creek since the turn of the century, winning six of the 20 renewals in that time. There are three members of that age group amongst the eight entries for the 2020 edition, namely Esprit du Large, Greaneteen and Rouge Vif.
By contrast, only one horse aged 10 or above has ever won the Tingle Creek. 20 have tried since the turn of the century but only the great Moscow Flyer (aged 10 in 2004) has been successful. That could count against the sole 10-year-old set to line up on Saturday - Altior.
Smart Stat - No horse has won the race at odds longer than 9/1 since 2000
Favourites have a very good record in the Tingle Creek since the turn of the century, winning 12 of the 12 renewals during that period. That includes five winners at odds-on, namely Kauto Star (9/4-on in 2006), Master Minded on two occasions (7/4-on in 2008 and 11/10-on in 2010), Sprinter Sacre (11/4-on in 2012) and Altior (13/8-on in 2018). Altior is the short-priced favourite to bring up the 11th Grade 1 win of his brilliant career on Saturday.
Incidentally, recent evidence suggests it usually doesn't pay to look too far from the obvious, even in those years when the favourite hasn't been successful. Seven of the other eight winners featured amongst the first three in the betting, leaving only Dodging Bullets, who became the longest-priced winner of the race this century when successful at 9/1 in 2014.
Those statistics will give cause for concern to those looking to back a horse at longer odds, including the likes of First Flow, Brewin'Upastorm, Castlegrace Paddy and Esprit du Large. That quartet are all trading at a double-figure price in the ante-post betting.
Smart Stat - Seven of the last 10 winners had previously won or been placed in a Grade 1 over fences
Recent evidence suggests that it's best to side with horses who have already proved themselves at a high level. For example, seven of the last 10 winners had previously won or been placed in a Grade 1 over fences, while all 10 had already won in graded company. Altior, Esprit du Large, Politologue and Rouge Vif are the only entries in this year's renewal to meet both criteria.
As for recent form, it's worth pointing out that a defeat last-time-out is no barrier to success in the Tingle Creek given that five of the last 10 winners had been beaten on their latest start. However, recent evidence would suggest that it is beneficial to have race fitness on your side, with only three of the last 10 winners being successful after six months or more on the sidelines. Altior and Politologue will be the only two runners returning from a similar absence on Saturday.
Smart Stat - Eight of the last 10 winners achieved a Timeform performance rating of 165 or above
It usually takes a top-class effort to win the Tingle Creek, with eight of the last 10 winners achieving a Timeform rating of 165 or above in victory. Sprinter Scare produced the best recent performance in the race when successful in 2012, earning a Timeform rating of 183 after cruising to a 15-length defeat of Kumbeshwar and Sanctuaire.
Altior is the standout contender in this year's renewal with a Timeform rating of 175+, and he would certainly be an above-average winner of the Tingle Creek if running to the same sort of level here. Incidentally, he produced the second-best performance in the race since 2010 when beating Un de Sceaux by four lengths in 2018, achieving a rating of 174 in the process.
At the other end of the spectrum, Castlegrace Paddy (159), Greaneteen (156p), First Flow (155), Brewin'Upastorm (148+) and Esprit du Large (147) would all need to improve to win a typical running of the race, though the small 'p' attached to Greaneteen's Timeform rating denotes that he should at least have more to offer.
Smart Stat - Paul Nicholls is the most successful trainer in the history of the race with 10 wins
Only two of the trainers with entries in this year's Tingle Creek have previously won the race. They include Nicky Henderson, who sent out two of the best two-mile chasers of recent times, Sprinter Sacre and Altior, to win the race in 2012 and 2018, respectively. Altior will be attempting to regain his crown on Saturday after missing last year's renewal won by Defi du Seuil.
However, by far the most successful trainer in the history of the Tingle Creek is Paul Nicholls, who has previously been successful with Flagship Uberalles (1999), Cenkos (2002), Kauto Star (2005 and 2006), Twist Magic (2007 and 2009), Master Minded (2008 and 2010), Dodging Bullets (2014) and Politologue (2017).
Nicholls is set to be double-handed as he attempts to bring up his eleventh win in the race in this year's renewal, with the unexposed Greaneteen and the 2017 winner Politologue - who also won last season's Champion Chase - appealing as two of the biggest dangers to Altior.
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