Flying the flag at Sandown

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  • Flagship Uberalles and Edredon Bleu go head-to-head in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown

    Philip Hobbs, the highly successful West Country trainer who has never trained a tip-top horse, will be keen to produce Flagship Uberalles capable of completing his hat-trick in Saturday’s Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.

    Flagship Uberalles has won the last two Tingle Creek’s for different trainers. In 1999Paul Nicholls saddled himand last year Noel Chance had the honour. Now the responsibility falls to Hobbs, who has had this in mind for Flagship Uberalles’s first race since taking him over during the summer.

    With champion two-mile chaser Edredon Bleu fresh from completing his Peterborough Chase four-timer at Huntingdon, Flagship Uberalles will need to be in peak condition. Hobbs, who won last Saturday’s big race, the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury with What’s Up Boys, will have seen to that and reported Flagship Uberalles in good form after schooling well on Monday.

    In the absence of the injured Richard Johnson, 22-year-old former showjump rider Robert Widger gets his first chance to partner a Grade 1 winner on Flagship Uberalles.

    Edredon Bleu and Fadalko, who fought out that unforgettable finish in the substitute Queen Mother Champion Chase at the grand finale to the foot and mouth-ravaged jump season here last April, renew rivalry again.

    Throw in Malton trainer Brian Ellison’s recent runaway Cheltenham winner Latalomne and you have the makings of full dress rehearsal for the Cheltenham Festival, and we’re only in early December.

    The William Hill Hurdle is a trappy affair and may be best left to Nicky Henderson’s talented Pedro Pete, who is just preferred to First Ballot.

    See More Business, the battle-scarred warrior with a Cheltenham Gold Cup and King George V1 Chase safe in his saddlebag, sets out on another season in the Rehearsal Chase at Chesptowwhere Moral Support tries to repeat his win of 12 months ago.

    Sackville, winner of the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and 6-1 joint favourite withFirst Gold for the Gold Cup, could be clear favourite for Cheltenham’s big race if he turns on a special show in the John Durkhan Memorial Chase at Punchestown on Sunday.

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