'They have to come and beat us' - Paul Nicholls on Tingle Creek chances

Greaneteen  (Harry Cobden) jumps the last fence and wins the 2m Celebration Chase from Nube NegraSandown 23.4.22 Pic: Edward Whitaker
Greaneteen: three wins from four starts over fences at Sandown and well fancied for the Tingle CreekCredit: Edward Whitaker

Paul Nicholls has delivered a bullish update on his Betfair Tingle Creek Chase contender Greaneteen, believing his horse is the most likely winner and challenging Shishkin and Edwardstone “to come there and beat us”.

Greaneteen is seeking back-to-back wins in the Sandown Grade 1 (2.55) having been steered to an emotional success last year by Bryony Frost, who had spoken at a disciplinary panel hearing into bullying and harassment of her by fellow rider Robbie Dunne just days before the race.

Greaneteen has only been beaten once over fences at Sandown in four starts and was an impressive winner of the Grade 2 Haldon Gold Cup under top weight at Exeter on his season reappearance this month.

In contrast, Shishkin has not run since pulling up in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, while Edwardstone has yet to run this season having twice been withdrawn on the day of the race this month due to unsuitable ground.

“Greaneteen saves his best for Sandown and the way he is at the moment I think they have to come there and beat us,” Nicholls said.

“Edwardstone is a very smart horse and on his day Shishkin is as well, so we’ll have to see.

“It’s a ‘home’ game for us in many ways and Shishkin had a few issues in the spring. We took him on at Kempton last year in soft ground after the Tingle Creek and I wish I hadn’t run him as those aren’t his conditions. Hopefully Shishkin is back to his best and will run to his best too.”

Shishkin (Nico de Boinville) after the Clarence House ChaseAscot 22.1.22 Pic: Edward Whitaker
Shishkin: remains in contention to clash with Greaneteen in the Tingle Creek at SandownCredit: Edward Whitaker

Greaneteen finished fourth in the Haldon Gold Cup before winning the Tingle Creek Chase last year, and Nicholls believes the eight-year-old is an improved horse this season.

“He seems much better this year,” he said, speaking at a Jockey Club press conference. “He wasn’t as ready for the Haldon Gold Cup last year as he was this year, but his whole work this season has been much improved. He’s only eight and he’s taken a step forward this year.

“He’s a fantastic jumper and for Sandown I always say you have to have a strong stayer at two miles who is a good jumper, and that’s what he is. He’s coming off arguably a career-best effort at Exeter, he’s in good form and his jumping is always going to be a help to him.”

Nicholls said he had no concerns about the ground for Greaneteen at Sandown, where clerk of the course Andrew Cooper has started “selective watering” on part of the back straight to maintain good ground.

“My horses love good ground,” Nicholls said. “Greaneteen’s won on all ground and can handle all grounds but what he loves is good ground. I don’t think there’s an excuse not to run on that ground at all.

“It’s December, we don’t have long, drying days any more and he’s just putting a little bit of water on there just to maintain it. I can’t see any excuses for anybody not running their horse – it’s not like it’s going to be good to firm.

“You can’t water to change the going, only to maintain what there is. I spoke with Andrew on Sunday and he said there is some water going on the back straight where it gets quicker but that’s it. It’s a tough job being a clerk of the course but you’ve got to be a bit careful with what you do.”

Greaneteen joined Shishkin at the head of the market for the Tingle Creek with race sponsor Betfair on Tuesday, with Barry Orr, the bookmaker’s head of racing PR, stating the ground was a factor.

He said: “All the market changes are obviously weather. Shishkin has gone from 10-11 to 6-5, while Greaneteen has contracted to 6-5 from 7-4.

“Edwardstone is another on the slide and is available at 5-1, almost double his initial price, and Gentleman De Mee has halved in price to 9-2 from 9-1.”

Betfair: 6-5 Shishkin, Greaneteen, 9-2 Gentleman De Mee, 5-1 Edwardstone, 10 Captain Guinness, 20 Dunvegan, 25 Funambule Sivola

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Peter ScargillDeputy industry editor
Published on 29 November 2022Last updated 18:23, 29 November 2022