It’s Tolworth Hurdle day at Sandown and we kick off with a handicap chase over two miles at 13.50 and I really like one that Robbie Power rides here in Johnbb.
He’s proven at Sandown having already won over course and distance, beating one of today’s rivals – Gary Moore’s Darebin – in the process. There was a lot to like about the way he jumped that day. I’ll take him to come home ahead of Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Locker Room Talk who will set a good gallop and could be dangerous if he is allowed too much rope out in front.
The Grade One Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle at 14.25 has been won by horses like Summerville Boy, Yorkhill and L’ami Serge in the past. I am not sure that we have that quality in Saturday’s field, but these are all young horses who their trainers hope will be smart performers in time.
Fiddlerontheroof is proven at the track and bolted up last time and trainer Colin Tizzard won this contest last year with Elixir Du Nutz and Finians Oscar in 2017, so he knows what is needed.
Nicky Henderson’s Son Of Camas will be encountering the softest ground he’s raced on yet, but has improved with each run this season. Silver Hallmark is a bit of an unknown quantity, but it’s interesting that Adam Wedge prefers him to Hang In There who he could have ridden. He won nicely at Chepstow, handles the soft ground and stays. On what we have seen of the others – they’ll be surprise winners.
Hang In There represents Emma Lavelle and I was quite taken with him when following up his Exeter win at Cheltenham last time. I’ll stick with him here as he could just be starting to mature.
He will also be ridden handily which will suit in these conditions.
The veterans chase at 15.00 over 3m has has been a fantastic initiative and gives some of these old favourites a real chance to win a big prize again. Caroles Destrier is one I like, but I’m worried the ground may be too soft for Neil Mulholland’s runner.
For that reason I am going for Burtons Well, who is proven on the surface for trainer Venetia Williams who used to train Houblon des Obeaux and this race is named in his honour. Burtons Well under-performed last time at Haydock, but will take a lot of beating if reverting to his Aintree winning form before that.
In the 2m handicap hurdle that concludes the card at 15.35, Eldorado Allen looked a bit of a star when winning at Sandown in November 2018, beating several future winners that day.
He’s to shoulder top weight but gets the nod.
Over at Wincanton, the two-mile handicap chase at 14.05 will be fast and furious. Ar Mest finished fourth to Al Dancer over hurdles at Ascot last year and if 7lb claimer Niall Houlihan can get him to jump fences as well, he could win for us.
The father and son team of Jonjo O’Neill Snr & Jnr team up with Maypole Class who won on bad ground at Lingfield last time and heads the market. However, Nifty At Fifty looked really awkward but ran out a convincing winner over course and distance last time. Jockey Bryan Carver is in flying form and he’s the selection in the 2m 5f handicap hurdle at 14.40.
Nick Williams’ Le Rocher has mixed it at the top table in France at times, but usuallly needs a run before showing his best so that makes me side with Philip Hobbs’ Gala Ball. He’s had a run to blow the cobwebs away and can return to winning ways now in the handicap chase at 15.15.
*Odds correct at time of publication