Sanctuaire: heading for Sandown clash with Sprinter Sacre in Tingle CreekPICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos)
Nicholls: Sanctuaire will be very fit in Tingle Creek
PAUL NICHOLLS on Wednesday promised Sanctuaire will be "very fit and very fresh" when he faces Sprinter Sacre, the brilliant Arkle winner, in the Sportingbet Tingle Creek at Sandown on December 8.
“Sprinter Sacre is an extremely talented horse but so is Sanctuaire. They are only 3lb apart so I have no idea how it will pan out but I know that it is going to be an interesting race," said Nicholls.
“When he won at Sandown Park in April [in the Grade 2 Celebration Chase] I knew he’d run well before the race, but it really was awesome the way he won. Sandown is the perfect course for front-running two-mile chasers and so it was obvious for us to come back with him for the Sportingbet Tingle Creek Chase.”
“We’ve had a little trouble with him in the past at the start of races, but since he has been going over fences he has been grand at the start so I am not too worried about him in that respect. The trick with him is to run him when he is very fit and very fresh and he will certainly be both those next Saturday.”
Walkon: beaten only by Al Ferof in the Paddy Power Gold CupPICTURE: Mark Cranham
Walkon set for Cheltenham return next month
FOLLOWING his second-placed run in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, Walkon is set to return for another crack at a big Cheltenham prize at next month's International meeting.
Trainer Alan King is preparing his charge, who was three lengths behind Al Ferof in the Paddy Power, for the Grade 3 Paul Stewart IronSpine Charity Challenge Gold Cup over 2m5f on December 15.
King said: "Walkon came out of the Paddy Power Gold Cup well and the Paul Stewart IronSpine Charity Challenge Gold Cup is the plan.
"He didn't surpass my expectations at all in the Paddy Power Gold Cup. We were very pleased with him beforehand and we were expecting a big run and we got one.
"He has gone up five pounds which seems acceptable but I can't do much about that - it is a bit frustrating but you have to learn to live with it."
Big Fella Thanks: off the track for 567 days before returning last monthPICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
Becher beckons for Big Fella Thanks
BIG FELLA THANKS may run in the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase over the Grand National fences at Aintree on December 8.
The Tom George-trained chaser, who has run three times in the National and finished fourth in 2010, returned from an absence of over 18 months at Aintree last month but failed to complete after unseating Paddy Brennan.
"The Betfred Becher Handicap Chase is definitely a race we are looking at for Big Fella Thanks. The race has been the plan for him since he came back in and he has been in really good form," said George.
"He is where we want him to be at the moment. It was a bit unfortunate what happened last time at Aintree but it didn't do him any harm and has got a run into him.
"He was showing all the right signs before his run at Aintree. His work has been good and he has been showing plenty of enthusiasm.
"I think the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase will suit him. He has run very well there before and loves the track but the John Smith's Grand National has always looked a bit too far for him - I think the trip in the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase will be just about right.
"The only target we have had for him is the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase so after that will just pick and choose as we see right for him."