The feature race at Sandown on Saturday is the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase over almost 2m (15:00). Defi Du Seuil has winning form at the highest level at the Esher venue and appeals most.
Trained by Philip Hobbs for leading Irish owner JP McManus, this son of Voix Du Nord is four from seven over fences.
Defi Du Seuil was bought out of Emmanuel Clayeux’s French yard and joined his current stable for the 2016-17 season when he dominated juvenile hurdles.
Although a campaign in open company didn’t pan out, the six-year-old made up into a very smart novice chaser last term.
Defi Du Seuil learned plenty from bow over fences in the Grade 2 Arkle Trial at Cheltenham and came on for that run when scoring at Exeter.
He profited from subsequent RSA Chase winner Topofthegame whipping round at the start to score by 3 1/2 lengths.
Defi Du Seuil was then far from disgraced under a penalty when chasing home Lostintranslation when back in Grade 2 company for the Dipper at Cheltenham.
Scilly Isles success and open to further progress
As he has since twice reversed that form – in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles over 2m 4f here in February and in the JLT Novices’ Chase back at Prestbury Park – Defi Du Seuil is a serious contender in this.
That is because Lostintranslation has since gone on to land two Grade 1s and become a leading Cheltenham Gold Cup contender.
After a busy campaign, Defi Du Seuil was far from disgraced when runner-up to the unexposed Chacun Pour Soi at the Punchestown Festival.
He made a winning return to action in the Grade 2 Shloer Chase at Cheltenham last month when keeping on strongly up the famous hill to assert close home.
Although Defi Du Seuil is now 3lb worse off at the weights with the runner-up Politologue, who won the Tingle Creek Chase two years ago, he has more scope for further progress than that re-opposing rival.
Handler Hobbs has landed this prestigious prize before when training Flagship Uberalles to his third success in 2001.
McManus’ retained rider Barry Geraghty has also partnered Moscow Flyer twice and Sprinter Sacre to win the race.
With further progress assured, Defi Du Seuil is a worthy 7/4 favourite with 888Sport for a sixth career Grade 1 success.
Politologue heads dangers
There are four course and distance winners in the line-up. While Dolos needs a career best to be involved in the finish, champion trainer Paul Nicholls’ other Tingle Creek Chase contender Politologue is an obvious danger.
This John Hales owned grey gelding is eight from 18 over fences and has been reasonably consistent in this sphere.
Politologue followed-up on his success here two years ago by completing a hat-trick in the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton.
He then bumped into the mighty Altior in the Game Spirit at Newbury and Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Politologue bounced back when up in trip for the 2018 Melling Chase at Aintree when lowering the colours of Irish raider Min by a neck.
A tilt at the King George was his target last season and, although winning the 1965 Chase at Ascot en route, Politologue didn’t stay the trip in the Boxing Day feature.
Connections dropped him back in trip and he ran a fine race in defeat when runner-up to Altior again at Cheltenham. He has since occupied second in two subsequent starts.
Old Aintree rival Min reversed form in this year’s Melling Chase and Politologue then chased home Defi Du Seuil in the Shloer.
Although 3lb better off on race terms, the eight-year-old runs off the same official rating of 166 for the fourth consecutive race.
That suggests Politologue isn’t getting any better and, at this stage of his career, may be vulnerable to a younger rival.
You can say the same about Irish raider Un De Sceaux, who captured the Tingle Creek Chase for Willie Mullins three years ago.
It’s for that reason both he and Politologue, who is 5/1 with Paddy Power to reverse Cheltenham form with Defi Du Seuil, are taken on.
Don’t discount Munir and Souede duo in Tingle Creek Chase
Owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede are doubly represented by Sceau Royal and Janika.
The former could not have been more impressive when bolting up in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase over course and distance two years ago.
Sceau Royal is an Alan King trained seven-year-old son of Doctor Dino and five from nine over fences. He has since scored twice in Grade 2s after his taking 11 lengths success here.
They were in the 2018 Lightning Novices’ Chase at Doncaster and the Shloer at Cheltenham last season.
Sceau Royal has since been beaten three times over fences by Altior, but got closer with each crack.
A tendency to sometimes jump out to his left is a negative around a right-handed course such as Sandown.
Sceau Royal placed third behind Politologue in this year’s Champion Chase despite jumping the last marginally in front.
He is 6/1 with Boylesports to reverse Cheltenham form with that re-opposing rival.
The each-way value in this Tingle Creek Chase renewal, however, may be Janika who is unexposed over the minimum trip and rated the same as Politologue and Waiting Patiently.
Trained by Nicky Henderson, this French import twice chased home Siruh Du Lac in valuable graded handicaps at Cheltenham last term.
Janika finally got his head in front for his current handler on reappearance when scoring off top-weight in the Grade 2 Haldon Gold Cup.
This obviously demands more, but it’s very interesting Munir and Souede run two horses in the Tingle Creek Chase.
Janika is also 5lb better off with Dolos from Exeter, so should have no problem confirming the form and is worth an each-way punt at 9/1 with Ladbrokes here.