For more than three decades, the Tingle Creek Chase has been one of the premier fixtures of the Sandown Park racecourse, which is located in the outer suburbs of London at Esher, Surrey. The name of the race was chosen to honour a flamboyant champion racehorse trained by Tom Jones. Tingle Creek was an ex-American two-mile chaser that won 23 meetings in Britain, many times leading from gate to post and thrilling crowds with spectacularly bold jumping displays.
Unsuited to Cheltenham, Tingle Creek had an especially good record at Sandown in the 1970s, winning the Sandown Handicap Pattern Chase three times, including the 1978 running at the ripe age of twelve. He also took the Benson & Hedges Chase in 1973, which was replaced by the event named in his honour in 1979.
Today, the Tingle Creek Chase is a Grade 1 National Hunt event open to horses aged four years or older. It takes place in early December each year over a distance of two miles (3,219 metres), with eleven tough fences and six hurdles to be jumped.
Racing and More
Sandown Park combines a horse racing course with leisure facilities, and it is almost as well known for its annual series of music events as its is for its flat and jump racing fixtures. Madness, Sugarbabes, UB40, Spandau Ballet, Pussycat Dolls, and Simply Red are just a few of the famous groups to play here. The schedule here also includes toy fairs, car shows, comedy acts, and property shows, and recreational activities range from go-karting and 18-hole golf to snowboarding and skiing on a 120-metre dry ski slope with a button lift.
The steeplechase track is a right-hand oval course that spans one mile and five furlongs. It finishes with an uphill run-in of 300 yards. Both stamina and jumping ability are required to win the Tingle Creek Chase, and several horses have shown unmatched form here over the years. They include three-time winner Flagship Uberalles (1999, 2000, 2001) and the current jumping phenomenon, Kauto Star (2005, 2006). Trainer Paul Nicholls has dominated of late, bringing six winners to the race in the past eight years.
Surrounding the Tingle Creek Chase are two full days of festivities known as the Tingle Creek Weekend. The spirit of Christmas is very much in evidence, from Traditional Horse and Sleigh rides and caroling to a special visit from Father Christmas and his cheery Sandown Park helpers. On Tingle Creek Friday, there are jump races conducted between noon and 4pm, followed by an evening of dining and partying. Tingle Creek Day is on Saturday, with its main event attracting many of the very best horses and jockeys in the National Hunt.
The Sandown Park Experience
The Sandown Park Grandstand is spacious and modern, designed to put spectators as close to the action as possible. The rear balcony overlooks the Parade Ring, linking the bars and the seating areas, and there are numerous restaurants and food outlets near at hand. Although the official dress code at Sandown Park is smart casual, many race-goers prefer to dress up on Saturday.
Grandstand tickets on the day of the race cost £22; Premier tickets are £30. Discounts are offered for advanced purchase. One of the best ways to enjoy Tingle Creek Day is with an all-inclusive admission package, such as the Sandown Winter Warmer. For just £30~£35, it includes entry, a racecard, Grandstand or Premier seating, and a £10 food and drink voucher that can be redeemed at a variety of on-site facilities. The package also features a £10 betting voucher booklet, with a £2 bet plus £8 worth of added value bets