Tingle Creek: Nube Negra, Chacun Pour Soi and Greaneteen meet again as five head to Sandown on Saturday

Paul Nicholls sends Greaneteen and Hitman to Tingle Creek at Sandown on Saturday as Champion Chase second and third, Nube Negra and Chacun Pour Soi, do battle again; winning-most trainer Nicholls looking for 12th victory in the race

Harry Skelton riding Nube Negra (left) on their way to winning the Shloer Chase
Image: Harry Skelton riding Nube Negra (left) on their way to winning the Shloer Chase

Nube Negra, Chacun Pour Soi and Greaneteen - second, third and fourth in last year's Queen Mother Champion Chase - all meet again in a high-class renewal of the Betfair Tingle Creek at Sandown.

Dan Skelton's Nube Negra only found Put The Kettle On half a length too good in March and while he was below par at the Punchestown Festival, he returned to action with a classy victory over Politologue in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham.

Chacun Pour Soi had Nube Negra - and stablemate Allaho - a long way behind him when hugely impressive at Punchestown, but his Cheltenham defeat, a first run outside of Ireland since joining Willie Mullins, does leave him with a small question to answer.

Paul Nicholls, who has won the race more than any other trainer and is looking for a 12th victory in the Grade One, ran Greaneteen in the Haldon Gold Cup first time out this season and while he faced a huge task at the weights that day, he is expected to strip much fitter on this occasion.

Nicholls also runs Hitman, second in the Haldon Gold Cup first time out, his first run since a wind operation.

He finished second to Allmankind in the Henry VIII Novices' Chase on this card 12 months ago.

The small but select field of five is completed by Henry de Bromhead's Captain Guinness, the mount of Rachael Blackmore.

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Chacun Pour Soi (pink and green) leads the Champion Chase at Cheltenham, with Greaneteen (pink and blue) and Nube Negra (white and red) giving chase
Image: Chacun Pour Soi (pink and green) leads the Champion Chase at Cheltenham, with Greaneteen (pink and blue) and Nube Negra (white and red) giving chase

Mullins: Chacun 'all set' for Sandown test

Mullins says it is an "honour" to have another runner in the Tingle Creek, having won the race with Un De Sceaux in 2016.

Chacun Pour Soi, a 5/4 favourite for Saturday's feature, is the pick of Mullins' original entries, with Energumene and Allaho set to run in Ireland next.

"All is good [with Chacun Pour Soi]," Mullins said. "I've been happy with his work and everything, so we're all set now for Sandown.

"He was the natural option - we had Energumene and Allaho in but we can send Allaho to Punchestown and Energumene to Cork and that's what we've settled with.

"It's a feature race over the years and it's always an honour to have a runner in and hopefully we'll have a winner in.

"We were lucky enough with Un De Sceaux and we'd have preferred more rain but I'm sure the opposition would too.

"Hopefully the water on the track during the week means it is fine."

Un De Sceaux and Ruby Walsh win the 2016 Tingle Creek at Sandown
Image: Un De Sceaux and Ruby Walsh win the 2016 Tingle Creek at Sandown

Arkle Chase winner Shishkin is a notable absentee from the race, with trainer Nicky Henderson revealing last week that the horse would not be ready in time.

Asked if Chacun Pour Soi's presence may have scared Henderson away, Mullins replied: "No, this was just the obvious race for him. For me, the obvious race for Allaho was Punchestown and Energumene at Cork.

"For me, I have three horses that I'd like to keep apart and we have three races at the weekend and they are the most obvious races for me."

Paul Townend celebrates after victory on Chacun Pour Soi at Punchestown
Image: Regular jockey Paul Townend misses the ride on Chacun Pour Soi this weekend, with Patrick Mullins taking over

With Mullins' stable jockey Paul Townend still on the sidelines, Patrick Mullins will take the ride on Chacun Pour Soi.

"He's an easy horse to ride," trainer Mullins said. "He's push-button stuff and he'll handle the ground. Hopefully, it's not too firm but he handles good ground and I don't think there's any fear from me or Patrick.

"We just have the usual big-race nerves. To get a ride like that is brilliant so he's really looking forward to it."

'Hitman looks amazing'

Previewing the hopes of his pair, who finished second and fourth in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter last month, Nicholls told Sky Sports Racing: "They're both in good shape and schooled this morning.

"Hitman looks amazing and has come on enormously from Exeter. He's a good horse and will keep on improving. It's a good race and he'll get a good lead.

Protektorat (red cap) jumps the last at Aintree alongside Phoenix Way and Hitman
Image: Hitman (blue cap) on his way to finishing third at Aintree in April

"Greaneteen obviously loves Sandown and was second in the Tingle Creek last year.

"He improved enormously through the spring to win the Celebration Chase at Sandown and the decent ground will suit him.

"He was a bit keen and fresh [at Exeter] as he always is first time out. I did tell everybody that was his prep race for this. He's a lot sharper and fitter and ready to go."

On the threat of Chacun Pour Soi, Nicholls added: "On his day he is good and won well at Punchestown, but wasn't quite as good at Cheltenham.

"Looking at his form, most of it has been on slow ground, so the faster the better for the English horses."

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