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Sandown Tolworth Hurdle Preview – Saturday 6th January

Last updated: January 3, 2018 by Leon Marshal

The Grade 1 £50,000 Tolworth Hurdle is the feature race at Sandown on Saturday. It is one of the top novice hurdles of the season and is regarded as a trial for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The Tolworth Hurdle has been won by some top class horses in the past including Forest Sun (1990), French Holly (1998), Behrajan (1999), Noland (2006) and Yorkhill (2016). Nicky Henderson has won the race five times, most recently with L’Ami Serge in 2015. Paul Nicholls has been successful on four occasions, all between 2003 and 2008. Finian’s Oscar won the race last year for Colin Tizzard but side-stepped Cheltenham before winning at Aintree.

Horses jumping the hurdles at Sandown Park

Henderson targets sixth Tolworth Hurdle

The early favourite this year is Nicky Henderson’s Claimantakinforgan. The six-year-old gelding was a useful National Hunt flat horse last season, finishing third in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham in March.

He made his hurdles debut at Newbury in November when beating Lostintranslation comfortably in good to soft ground. The runner-up boosted the form with an easy victory next time. Claimantakinforgan was stepped up to Grade 2 level last time at Ascot where he beat Dr Des in soft ground. The performance put him among the market leaders for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at this year’s Festival.

Henderson has also entered ten length Doncaster winner We Have A Dream, a four-year-old son of Martaline. The French import had won with similar authority on his debut at Warwick and is currently as short as 10-1 for the Triumph Hurdle. Whatswrongwithyou was beaten a length on his hurdling bow by Ainchea at Sandown last month.

Western Ryder chases hat-trick at Sandown

Warren Greatrex has entered hat-trick seeking Western Ryder along with the point-to-point winner Dream Brother. Western Ryder unseated his rider when long odds-on favourite at Stratford in November. He made amends when beating Bang On Frankie in heavy ground at Chepstow. The Westerner gelding followed up by beating Lalor at Cheltenham in December.

Dream Brother is a six-year-old son of Oscar out of a mare by Phardante. He won a point-to-point in Ireland and must have been showing up well at home to be given an entry here.

Kalashnikov is a five-year-old gelding by Kalanisi trained by Amy Murphy. He won by 10 lengths at Wetherby on his debut and followed up by the same margin at Doncaster. The runner-up has been well beaten since but Kalashnikov remains an exciting prospect.

Five horses competing for the prize during the Tolworth hurdle

Nicholls relies on Mont Des Avaloirs

Paul Nicholls will rely on last month’s Aintree winner Mont Des Avaloirs, a five-year-old son of Blue Bresil. He was well backed to make a winning debut in heavy ground and did not let his supporters down. After being headed at the second last, the French-bred gelding battled back to beat Midnight Shadow by three lengths.

Sussex Ranger is also entered at Chepstow in the Finale Juvenile Hurdle on the re-arranged Welsh National card. His main objective is the Triumph Hurdle after fluent successes at Fontwell and Sandown. He was a very impressive 14 lengths winner here last month from Quothquan and is trained by Gary Moore in West Sussex.

Joseph O’Brien has made a brilliant start to his training career and sends Speak Easy across the Irish Sea. The Beneficial gelding won a Navan Maiden Hurdle stylishly and races in the colours of leading owner JP McManus.

The Russian Doyen is trained by Colin Tizzard and steps up in class after winning at Exeter last month. He showed signs of greenness that day but clearly has a decent engine. Summerville Boy looks held by Western Ryder on Cheltenham form having finished nearly six lengths behind that rival when receiving 6lbs. The pair are due to meet at level weights on Saturday.

Sandown Tolworth Hurdle Betting Tips

Kalashnikov @3-1 Betfred

The Tolworth Hurdle is due off at 2.25 at Sandown on Saturday 6th January and will be televised live on ITV4.