Tingle Creek: Mullins team on Chacun Pour Soi's big-race chances

Saturday: 2.25 Sandown
Betfair Tingle Creek Chase (Grade 1) | 1m7½f | 4yo+ | ITV4/RTV

Patrick Mullins said it was like getting behind the wheel of a Bentley when he worked Chacun Pour Soi at the Curragh on Tuesday.

Not only will this be the record-breaking amateur's first public ride on Chacun Pour Soi, but it will be his first time riding at Sandown too.

Mullins said: "This is what it's all about. I've never ridden around Sandown but I've always wanted to ride there and this could be the ultimate experience – to go around there on a horse like Chacun Pour Soi.

"I sat on him for the first time on Tuesday at the Curragh and he worked very well. It was like sitting in a Bentley, he's just a fantastic ride."

Chacun Pour Soi is generally a 6-1 shot for the Champion Chase, a race he was 8-13 to win last season but could manage only third having traded at a low of 1.15 in running. He is officially 8lb better than anything else in the race, but will he be at his peak first time out on ground that will be quicker than ideal?

Mullins added: "We're very happy with him. Dermot Keeling, who rides him out, is very happy with him and I got a great feel off him on Tuesday. Look, he's going there against horses who have had a run, so that would be a slight concern.

"The ground should be okay. We'll have a look at it when we get over there, but we're very, very happy with him."

Chacun Pour Soi's trainer Willie Mullins is trying to win the Tingle Creek for a second time. His first success arrived in 2016 when Un De Sceaux fought back bravely under Ruby Walsh to beat Sire De Grugy in a thriller.

Skelton all a tingle

The ambitious Dan Skelton is about quality rather than quantity these days and success for Nube Negra in what the trainer describes as one of jumping's "hallmark" races would underline that move in style.

In Nube Negra, Skelton certainly has a challenger of quality following his runner-up finish in last season's Champion Chase.

According to Racing Post Ratings, he stepped up on that to produce a career-best in Cheltenham's Shloer Chase last month and Skelton, typically, is on the front foot regarding his chances.

"He's in great form," he said. "He's had a run and the rain has stayed away, which I think is crucial to his chances. I'm very happy with him and there are no excuses taking on a solid field. There'll be no hiding place, but he's ready – it's as simple as that. He may have sharpened up for his Cheltenham run."

Skelton knows what it takes to win the Tingle Creek given his time as assistant to Paul Nicholls, who has captured the prestigious Grade 1 a record 11 times.

"I was very attached to Twist Magic," Skelton added of the 2007 and 2009 winner. "I loved him and on one of the days he won we watched it from the top of the straight, almost in the horse chute and that was magical, but so was Master Minded the day he cantered round [2008]. And even though Azertyuiop [2004] got beat, it was an amazing race. The Tingle Creek is a hallmark race, a biggie.

"I think Nube Negra can be in that group. He's been second in a Champion Chase and only good horses are at the top of the field in those races. I consider him of that quality, but you can't talk about them until they've done it though, so he's got to go and do it."

More Nicholls domination?

Paul Nicholls has an amazing record in the Tingle Creek, so his runners Greaneteen and Hitman must merit the utmost respect, even if they are not in the banker, almost unbeatable, mould of a Kauto Star or Master Minded.

Successful over course and distance when he beat Altior in last season's Celebration Chase, Greaneteen is ridden here by Bryony Frost, back in the big-race spotlight after a traumatic week at the hearing brought by the BHA against Robbie Dunne on charges of prejudicial conduct and threatening behaviour. Greaneteen is expected to take a step forward from his Haldon Gold Cup fourth, where Hitman was ahead in second.

"Greaneteen likes the track," said Nicholls. "He ran well in the Tingle Creek last year and won the Celebration Chase. He needed the run at Exeter the other day. He's fitter and sharper and raring to go. Hitman ran well at Exeter, although he didn't do a lot in front from the back of the last. He's got a bit to find on ratings."

Will Blackmore and De Bromhead be toasting Guinness?
You can never write off Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore in any blockbuster event, but Captain Guinness will need to do something he has never done before if he is to provide the pair with another Grade 1.

The six-year-old has an official rating of 154, and that is 22lb inferior to Chacun Pour Soi.

The chances are we have not seen the best of Captain Guinness yet, though, as he is only a second-season chaser and has had only seven starts over fences.

The Arkle third registered his second success over fences in a Grade 3 at Naas last month when easily accounting for Andy Dufresne, and is certainly not out of place in this Grade 1.

De Bromhead said: "Captain Guinness seems to be in good form and I was delighted with the way he won at Naas. It goes without saying that this is a tougher race, but we're happy with him and thought it was worth having a go."