Won by the likes of Sprinter Sacre, Sire De Grugy, Master Minded and Un De Sceaux in recent years, the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown is always a race to savour and is one of the season’s top two mile chases. Some of the genuine superstars of the chasing game take to the track here in a race which has been won by a number of legends of the game.
First run in 1979, the steeplechase is named after the horse Tingle Creek who became a firm favourite amongst racing enthusiasts during the 1970’s thanks to his bold front running style and weight defying performances. The Esher track in particularly suited his running style, winning the Pattern Handicap there three times in six runnings, finishing as runner-up in the other three.
Tingle Creek Chase Course Map (Chase Course)
Tingle Creek Chase Past Winners
|Nico de Boinville
|Defi Du Seuil
|Nico de Boinville
|Un De Sceaux
|Sire De Grugy
|Sire De Grugy
|Henry De Bromhead
About the Tingle Creek Chase
Ask any veteran of the racing scene and they might well recall fond memories of 1970s superstar Tingle Creek. So many of the flamboyant chestnut’s most memorable displays came at Sandown so it’s only fitting that it’s here where a race is named in his honour. The distance couldn’t be any more suitable either as Tingle Creek was very much a two-mile chase specialist despite not looking like one, nor being bred to be one.
While initially a handicap affair during its earlier days, since 1994 this race has carried Grade 1 status. This change in classification proved enough to bring Champion Chase winner Viking Flagship to Sandown that year and he produced the goods on his seasonal debut. So many elite chasers have continued to win this race since then, including the likes of Moscow Flyer, Kauto Star and Sizing Europe. It remains one of the leading minimum distance races on the National Hunt calendar and one that regularly involves Champion Chase hopefuls and winners.
THE MAKING OF CHAMPIONS
Tingle Creek himself never won the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival but the race in his honour has regularly produces winners of Cheltenham’s most cherished two mile race. Although the two races are separated by around three months, the result here is one you definitely ought to look at ahead of the Cheltenham Festival. If a horse can handle the two miles and 13 fences at Sandown, as well as the classy field that almost always assembles, they are certainly worth adding to the Festival short list.
It’s often been the case that the winner of the Tingle Creek is the same name later crowned king of the Champion Chase as you can see above. Missing from the chart is 2016 winner Un De Sceaux, who took a different approach, instead competing, and winning, the two and a half mile Ryanair Chase. The 2000 Tingle Creek winner, Flagship Uberalles, was denied a tilt at the 2001 Champion Chase due to the foot-and-mouth crisis.
Paul Nicholls is responsible for many of the entries featuring on the above chart and his record in this race is completely unrivalled. In 2021, the 14-time British jump racing Champion Trainer made it win number twelve, just over two decades after enjoying his first Tingle Creek success. Consistently able to churn out some of the most talented minimum distance chasers, you’d be wise to always take any of his entries in this race seriously.
FLYING THE FLAGSHIP
Double winners have been a regular feature of this race over the years, with News King first to manage the feat back in the Tingle Creek’s handicap days, followed by Long Engagement and Waterloo boy. The trend has continued under Grade 1 status with eight additional horses pulling off the double since.
Three victories is something only managed by one horse though, the brilliant Flagship Uberalles, who also won the Champion Chase in his illustrious career. First winning as a five-year-old, the youngest horse ever to win the two mile contest, the half-brother of Viking Flagship then proceeded to outdo his relative in this race. Two further victories followed, both under completely different trainers, for what is one of the most unique hat-tricks you are ever likely to see.
FLAGSHIP UBERALLES’ GRADED RACE VICTORIES
|Month & Year
|Punchestown Champion Chase
|Queen Mother Champion Chase
|Game Spirit Chase
|Haldon Gold Cup
Flagship Uberalles actually stood a really good shot of making it four Tingle Creek wins too but an awful stumble over one of the fences ensured this didn’t happen. The mistake in 2002 did however put a near immediate end to Moscow Flyer’s race as Jessica Harrington’s runner was unable to avoid the stumbling 15/8 favourite. Such was the strength of the collision, Barry Geraghty flew off the saddle as Moscow Flyer’s Sandown debut ended in disaster. He would return the following two years to win but the initial forced failure denied him from matching Flagship’s hat-trick.
CHELTENHAM COMES TO THE RESCUE
Frosty conditions in 1983 forced the abandonment of the Tingle Creek chase and in 2000 there was danger of another cancellation until Cheltenham stepped in. By this time it was a race that needed to be saved and without it, Flagship Uberalles may never have pulled off his unrivalled trio of victories.
Ten years after saving the day, Cheltenham was again called into action due to freezing temperatures and snowfall at Sandown. It hosted the 2010 Tingle Creek just a week later than initially scheduled, causing virtually no disruption to the National Hunt schedule, and allowing the brilliant Master Minded to claim his part in the race’s history. As a slight aside for the trivia fans, it should be noted that the two runnings at Cheltenham were over a slightly longer distance of two miles, 110 yards, rather than the standard two miles.