The Tingle Creek Chase is a massive race in its own right but this Saturdays' renewal at Sandown promises to be one of the most important Cheltenham Festival trials of the season. Two of the most exciting young chasers currently in training look set to clash at Sandown with Champion Chase contenders Sprinter Sacre and Sanctuaire ready for a mouth-watering contest. Last season Sprinter Sacre proved himself as one of the best horses in training as he swept all before him to win the Arkle Chase at Cheltenham and he is already a short priced favourite for the Queen Mother at the Festival in March. Connections have been bullish about his form at home and he will start the Tingle Creek as a warm favourite for the win as he steps out of novice company for the first time. He could well face his toughest task yet though this weekend as he goes up against Sanctuaire who at the weights is just three pounds behind Sprinter Sacre according to the official ratings.
The Paul Nicholls trained Sanctuaire sneaked under the radar last season as a novice as he stayed away from the Cheltenham Festival and it will be fascinating to see how he fares on Saturday. He produced a stunning display at the back end of last season to win the Celebration Chase at Sandown by a remarkable 17 lengths with class horses like Somersby and French Opera left trailing in his wake. Its fair to say that it was one of the best performances of the season and Sanctuaire was immediately installed towards the top of the betting for the the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Festival. In the past we have seen some great names win the Tingle Creek Chase on their way to Cheltenham glory including Moscow Flyer, Kauto Star and Master Minded to name just a few. Those three horses went onto to secure legendary status at the festival and the feeling this week is that Sprinter Sacre and Sanctuaire just could be good enough to join that elite list of names.