Celebration Chase: Greaneteen defends his crown at Sandown Park

Paul Nicholls' eight-year-old dominated on Saturday afternoon as he stormed into an early lead and finished strong to claim the Celebration Chase in Sandown.

After beating the now-retired Altior to the win 12 months ago, Greaneteen returned to Sandown and won a successive Celebration Chase title on Saturday afternoon.

He was deemed the favourite for the race despite a disappointing last outing at Leopardstown earlier this month.

The 11-8 leader also rounded off a treble for champion trainer Paul Nicholls and jockey Harry Cobden.

After initially tracking his pacesetting stablemate Rouge Vif, Cobden sent Greaneteen to the lead racing down the back straight, with Harry Skelton quickly covering the move aboard his main market rival Nube Negra.

But after clearing the third fence from the finish with conviction, it was clear that Greaneteen had plenty left in the tank, and he powered away from the pack to cross the line.

After dealing with the pressure of being favourite and finishing the victor, Nicholls said, "We thought all of them had good chances today and it is an amazing day. You try to get these horses right for these special days. The ground is wonderful here, which is just what we want.

"The ground was too soft for Greaneteen in Ireland. He's probably not a February-type horse. He is good in the spring and the autumn.

"He did get an injury to his eye out there. Some mud got into it and he has had three visits to the vet. He is going in on Monday to have surgery on his eye to remove an ulcer. It is minor, but we have had to deal with that since, but we knew he was ready for today.

"He goes an end-to-end gallop here. He keeps galloping and you have to jump around here, which he does well and he stays on strong. Harry was really impressed today - he just keeps on improving - and he never gets the credit he deserves. He is a very smart horse on his day.

"Everyone keeps making excuses for the others, but he just keeps winning and that's what you want in a good horse - keep winning.

"This track suits him and the Tingle Creek will be the target next year and this race afterwards. It is good prize money and whether Cheltenham suits him, I don't know. He was only beaten two lengths last year in the Champion Chase, but this track suits him. The Tingle Creek will be the main target in the autumn."

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